"Dracula," "Love at First Bite," "Twilight," "American Vampire," "Dark Shadows," "I, Vampire," and "True Blood." It seems that almost everyone has a vampire story in many different media to call his or her own. I'm an "American Vampire" kind of guy. I've never watched even a minute of "Dark Shadow," but that didn't stop me from jumping in with both feet and trying this book out.
Stuart Manning's story delivers a half dozen characters in a very exposition-heavy, soap operatic first issue, but he still manages to squeeze in a threat, a looming concern, and a cliffhanger ending. It's a testament to Manning's work that I'm intrigued to see more of this story. Granted, I feel a little lost with the handful of characters presented, but I'm certain that the true intended audience of this title -- those who have watched the show -- will find themselves more apt to follow the flow and the cast.
Aaron Campbell does a good job of capturing likenesses from the show. He blends in a moodiness through heavy use of shadow, but in some spots that shadow overpowers the likenesses of the characters, forcing the reader to rely on the coloring of Carlos Lopez to distinguish between some of the characters. Unfortunately, the murkiness hits at the most critical point in the story. I found a re-read helped me through that bumpy spot, but I would have liked to see a little more distinction drawn out between Barnabas and Roger Collins.
As first issues of licensed properties go, this one has quite a bit to offer. Sure, there's a significant amount of exposition to plow through, but the story doesn't slow down for the details. It's quite clear that the characters that didn't get much spotlight time in this issue will have moments to shine in the future. "Dark Shadows" fans, your time is now and your vampire is back. Other vampiric comic fans might want to give this a peek too.