Despite Andrew Bennett’s galpal Tig being depicted in a trademark Guillem March-drawn, back-breaking, contortionist pose on the cover of “I, Vampire” #15, Dennis Calero’s artwork inside Joshua Hale Fialkov’s story is significantly more photo-realistic, considerably darker and laced with what was once referred to as “mixed media.”
That “mixed media,” is bits and pieces sampled and reassembled to become new artwork. While not as emotionally charged as Rafael Albuquerque’s “American Vampire,” Calero’s art is dark and filled with dread and foreboding. Grounding the artwork in murkiness and non-committal shades of emotional absence, the brightest spots Marcelo Maiolo’s colors bring to the page are the various characters’ eyes as they exhibit their powers. This is evident in Andrew Bennett’s vampiric hound, the resurrected carriage driver and Bennett himself. Additionally, Maiolo fills much of “I, Vampire” #15 with mists of various shades and densities, raising the unknown and unrevealed significantly.
Fialkov’s story, while mired in the shadowy realm of vampires and secret organizations, does provide some illumination through the dialog and interactions of Bennett, Charles Thompson and Tig as they attack Castle Van Helsing in search of an artifact of notable power. The banter these three share reads like that from a seasoned cast of a popular television show — trading quips easily and collaborating in between. Being supernaturally charged and storming an impenetrable fortress doesn’t lend itself towards such interplay, but it does serve as testament to the development Fialkov has placed into these characters. Rounding out the cast of “I, Vampire” #15 are John Troughton, Mary Seward and Deborah Dancer, whose story is placed in parallel to the adventures of Bennett and his crew.
“I, Vampire” #15 feels like a transitional issue, moving pieces forward on the gameboard without fully revealing the final goal. Plans are afoot and designs playing out, but the reader is drawn in more than left as a mere observer. The issue delivers plenty of story, a nice bit of action and an attack from a vampire dog, which is more than most comic books can claim today. These elements, woven into strong characterization from Fialkov and nice art from Calero make “I, Vampire” a book worth sampling. There are lots of vampire stories out there, but as cliche as it is to say so; this one is not like those others.