Dusk: The Vampire Comic. Review.

Regular viewers of theavod will already know the long, strange history of this review. And by that I mean that an ambitious promoter by the name of David Doub sent his comic to me in the hope that I'd review it here at the castle.

And now I am.

You know, come to think of it, that story wasn't very long or strange. So for the buildup. Hope it didn't generate a lot of expectations I wasn't able to deliver on. Anyhoo, let's get started with the review by turning the the first page-

Seriously? ‘Created by’? You know, putting this credit seems oddly insecure. If no created by credit is there, the assumption is made that the writer ‘created it’. They only started using that credit to recognize the collaborative effort that sometimes exists between writers and artists, or when an artist is the sole creator, and the writer is just a guy who comes in to script the dialogue (as in the image years of the 90s). Also, your name appears five times in the copyright section at the bottom. We get it. It’s your comic.

You know what? I find it obnoxious enough to use ‘THRU’ instead of ‘Through’. But to then misspell it? Yikes. It’s only four letters. How hrad is it to get four letters in the correct order?

So the entire page is white, except for this quote. But is it a quote? It’s not credited to anyone. If David Doub wrote it, and it’s part of the comic, why the quotes?

I know it’s unfair to go to Watchmen here, but that’s the best way to do thematic quotes – each chapter is named after a quote, and at the end of the chapter you get the origin of the quote so you better understand the context.

And who picked out those quotes for Watchmen? Nail Gaiman. That’s like hiring John Gucci to make sure your shoes are properly shined.

Yeah, I’m almost three hundred words into this review and I haven’t actually gotten to the comic yet. So let’s go.

How does this caption improve anything? Is this going to be narrated? It’s too vague to count as ruining anything, but I don’t get why it’s there.

Now, see, that’s what captions are for. They’re so you can leave out an establishing shot. Although perhaps they just realized that there’s no way to make a sign where the term ‘velvet yearning’ looks anything but ridiculous.

Is he sticking out his tongue in that second panel? Why? I can't fault the first panel, though. Vampire using a breath-freshening spray=funny. I'm sure we all know that old equation.

There’s a crazed vampire out there going nuts. His name is Chuck Kilgore. You have to be careful when using evocative names. How careful? More careful than giving a vampire a name with the words ‘kill’ and ‘gore’ in it.

This is like the bottom of the barrel for terrible character naming that you should never come close to.

Oh, and the white-haired elder vampire in charge of vampire discipline is named ‘Ash’, and his vampire-killing sidekick is named ‘Eve’. So it’s not like KG is in bad company.

Oh, look. There’s that outside shot. Seems I was totally right about that name looking awful. Although that poster on the right serve a vital purpose: It reminds us all of the importance of yearning. Really, can't we all take a few minutes out of the day to yearn?

I think I’ve made my feelings about effete, foppish, upper-class vampire clans clear enough over the years, but here’s something I want to know: When exactly after becoming a vampire do you start using words like ‘Tarry’? Do you just pick them up by hanging around other vampires, or is there a book they hand out?

To be fair, if that chick turns out to be 300 years old, I’ll take it back.

Whenever I start out writing a review, I struggle with exactly what kind of review it’s going to be. Sad, helpful, sarcastic. Apparently this review is going to be a chronicle of typographical and spelling mistakes.

It’s possible he meant that the guy had someone named leach in his pants. A couple of people.

This is the absolute next panel. I have no idea what’s happening here. Is she jumping? Because look at that height difference in the last panel. And why are they so elaborately detailing the motion of her thrusting her hand to the side, not hitting him?

This is the third panel in the sequence. Was she jumping, or not? How much more effective would it have been to just show a hand on the side of that guy’s face that he’s reacting to with surprise, then BAM! at the top of the next page, his head is smashed into the panel.

Speaking of panels, take a look at this overall page.

Ever since a certain Fighting Fantasy book became an obsession of mine in childhood, I’ve appreciated the dynamism of images that burst out of the traditional panels of the comic book space. Despite my love of the technique, this is a terrible example of it. Why? Take a look at the previous page-
Notice how the edge of panel goes much higher on this page (and all previous pages)? That’s right, it was lowered specifically so that the arm could break out of the panel. Which is kind of missing the point. It kind of makes it look like you’re just trying to avoid drawing any extra background. What’s funny is that a little lower on the page, there’s an actually GOOD example of this technique.

See? His white shirt becomes one with the edge of frame, the shadow bleeds off into the white space – it’s like his head is being held against the lower panel. That’s some great looking work.

So then Eve confronts KG, and it’s revealed that she’s not a vampire at all. Just a vampire ‘slayer’ who works for vampires. So yeah, that ‘tarry’ doesn’t make any sense at all. She quickly stabs KG and demands to know who his victim was – wait, if they don’t know who the victim was, how do they know about this at all? Do vampires have a psychic link that lets them know when a new one has been made? You know what, I’m probably overthinking this. There was probably just a snitch in the bar where he was shooting his mouth off.

So KG reveals the name of the newly-turned vampire: Mark Gilmore. That’s right. An evil vampire named Kilgore turned a dude named Gilmore.

Careful with those names, people.

Eve stabs KG a couple of times – it’s not really clear if he’s dead or not, and then the big guy shoots at her.

I don’t have anything to say about these frames. I just wanted to make sure you’d seen them. Oh, and the vampire blood Eve drinks seems to make her bulletproof. And she knows magic. Just FYI.

Eve turns up at the killer from the beginning’s house as he’s struggling about whether to kill his wife or not. There’s a chase, and they wind up sitting under a street light, where Eve consoles him about the whole vampire thing, and tells him that it’s simply a matter of controlling his urges. GM doesn’t take it well:

You know what? Despite the overelaborateness of it, I’m liking the playful working of frames in the art. What I’m liking less: The term ‘hellish dinner bell’. MG doesn’t know how to work a simile, it seems.

They talk for a page about how hard it is to not kill people when you’re a vampire. During this speech GM drops the bombshell that he was ‘feeding from’ his wife. Um? You were? Here’s a few shots of GM and his wife Sylvia-

Here she is being "bitten". Looks more like a 'tonguing' to me, but sure.

Now she’s calling the police.

And this is her being sad.

Do you see any blood at all? Neck wounds, bleeding, anything? I know it’s a little hard to render in black and white, but make an effort, huh?

Anyway, GM kills himself (apparently bullets kill vampires?), then Eve heads back to the house to break the news to Sylvia. Why? You’ve got me. I guess she thinks that Sylvia will take the news best from the person she will assume has killed her husband? Sylvia kills herself, and then cops show up to arrest Eve. Why does she let them do this? Another character will ask my question a couple of pages later, and she responds that there’s been ‘enough killing tonight’.

That’s true, but did you really have to kill them to get away? You know magic, are bulletproof, and super-fast (she also dodged some of the bullets that Mongo fired back at the bar). I’m sure you could have just run away without too much trouble, right?

Then the story ends abruptly, and we cut to six months earlier. And when I say ‘ends’, I don’t just mean the scene cut. It actually says ‘END’. Here, look:

And since this comes at the end of page 32, I’m guessing this was originally intended to be the first issue of a comic, as opposed to just a chapter in a discrete ‘graphic novel’.

Anyhow, the flashback details the time Lord Ash tried to get Eve to leave for somewhere else and live a normal life, and she refused because she wanted to stay with him. And continue drinking his blood, which gives her superpowers.

Then it’s time for another quote!

So their magic is called ‘fel powers’. Okay. Learning new things. Good.

The second episode starts… with another scene in a dance club and narration!

Man, I hope this is an actual theme, and he’s not just repeating himself this quickly. Eve is in a club, dancing with some guy while thinking about Ash.

Hers. Wake up from hers. I don’t care how many elipses you use, it’s still the same sentence. And you don’t use the same noun twice in the same sentence. I know it’s not a formal rule, but trust me on this one. Don’t do it.

Eve and her partner head over to the bar, where something odd happens.

Totally fine. But then Eric follows her.

Are they attributing this word bubble to the wrong person, or is she complimenting her own idea? And why is the word ‘down’ in bold? I tried to say this sentence five times out loud, and there’s not one way of emphasizing the word ‘down’ that makes sense when spoken.

That’s another tip everyone should live by. Read that dialogue out loud. See how it sounds. Maybe have someone else read it for you. It’ll save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Eve dumps the guy in a nice enough way, and heads home. But she’s being followed by a Harvey Bullock-looking guy! And let’s take a moment to consider where she lives. It seems that she’s shacking up with Vampire Lord Ash, whose ‘lair’ is here:

Okay, a couple of things here.

1: The name means ‘Theatre of Darkness’ so it’s a little on the obvious side.

2: The caption as ‘Der Dunkelheit’, while the sign reads ‘Das Dunkelheit’. What’s the funny thing? There’s three possible singular articles in German: Das, Die, and Der, for neutral, female, and male, respectively. ‘Darkness’ is female in German. So the proper name of the theatre would ‘Theatre Die Dunkelheit’.

3: Where is this taking place that there’s A: A lot of people who speak English and English street names. B: A latin dance club. C: A creepy old German theater?

So the Harvey Bullock guy shows up and gets punched. Turns out he’s a PI (really? I’d never have guessed when he looked like this:)

Who’s been hired by an insurance company that held a life insurance policy on her. Eve’s reaction to this information is my favorite thing about her so far:

Oh, Eve. I’m pretty sure you know you’re a comic book character, don’t you?

It seems that the guy was just investigating her death because her husband has claimed the life insurance despite the lack of a body. The detective has a lot of information to offer as well. Apparently her husband also regrets what he did to drive her away. Eve casts a spell and sends the PI off, then heads inside for a chat with Nick, who also works for Ash.

They have a little banter about how the vampire lord doesn’t celebrate birthdays, despite the fact that Eve thought that she’d finally ‘broken him in’ this year. This YEAR? How long has she been living here? What I mean to say is that the little inter-story vignette set ‘six months ago’ suggested that she hadn’t been hanging around with Ash for that long. How long is this set after that first story?

Eve heads to her, well, I’ll let the comic cover this part for me-

You know what? There’s like three different ways you can add one or two words to that sentence to make it make sense, but none of them were done.

Read it aloud, people.

Better yet, have someone else read it out loud to you.

She tucks herself in after doing the following series of things-

She reaches high up out of the bed-

To underneath the bedside table where some vampire blood is taped-

Then sits up in bed and turns out the light. See the height of the bed as opposed to the table? Why is she reaching up? Yes, I’m aware this is the absolute pinnacle of nitpicking, but isn’t that why I’m here?

Eve has a dream about the night she became a vampire. Which, according to the caption, was ten years ago. You know what? I’m putting the caption here, because it’s just so crazy-

This is what it looks like when a caption ruins the story’s impact. I’m so used to seeing (and criticizing them) in the form of title cards in movies, seeing one in a comic book is just bizarre.

This one panel lays out everything that happens over the next six pages. We still have to read those six pages, so what purpose is this caption supposed to serve? It doesn’t give any information that the story won’t, or compress time, or even comment on the action. All it does is tell us what’s about to occur so we won’t have to suffer the indignity of being surprised.

Okay, apparently that pissed me off a little, so I’m going to take a break. While I’m gone, feel free to look at the absurdly large head of Eve’s vampire lord, Van Kraken.

Back now.

It turns out that ten years ago Eve was a bubbly, happy person until one day her husband hit her because he resented her making money to support him while he was out of work. Distraught by this development, she ran out into the night, where the vampire lord Van Kraken grabbed her.

Van Kraken, being a little thick, goes on to explain who he is and what he’s doing there, despite the fact that she clearly just meant it in disblief. Eve has these ‘abilities’, you see, and now Van Kraken turns her into a vampire so she can use them for him. Wait, does he turn her into a vampire or not? He slashes her throat and then makes her drink from his wrist (no doubt the origin of her famous vampire blood addiction). Doesn’t that turn you into a vampire?

But up until now she’s just been a human addicted to blood. Who hasn’t aged noticeably in ten years. I’m sure this is all going to be explained down the line, right?

Oh, Eve – you ran away from an abusive relationship only to wind up in an even more abusive relationship with a vampire lord. Can you ever win?

Now we cut over to the PI’s motel, which is introduced with one of the book’s trademarked verbose narration windows.

Pop quiz – which fact in that narration was either useful to the reader, interesting to the reader from an artistic or poetic standpoint, or gramatically correct?

It’s a trick question. The answer is ‘none of them’.

Eve shows up in the motel room, and announces that the PI was telling the truth – he doesn’t work for the husband, he works for the insurance company?

Um, how did she check?

So here’s the timeline of the events we’ve seen so far – she leaves a dance club well after dark – she goes home – she confronts a PI and runs him off – she goes to sleep – she wakes up – she goes to his motel room.

All of this was taking place (presumably) between 10PM and 4AM (note the caption about it being ‘the next morning’). Who exactly is awake at the insurance company at those hours to tell her secret information about who hired whom?

It seems the PI has quite a sob story to tell about Eve’s husband. Apparently he started drinking pretty heavily, even at work (wait – he had a job? What was he upset about again?), then got into an accident and had to take pain killers, which he got addicted to. This leads to a great two-panel continuity error:

Okay, gotcha. He was so bad at life that he lost the house. Which was ‘repoed’ – I didn’t know you could use that word to describe a bank seizing a house, but that’s not what I’m talking about here-

Yup. He got the house back between those two frames. How does a mistake like this even happen?

With her husband in the hospital and Harvey seeming overly concerned about it, Eve’s heart is tugged, and she decides to fly out to see him right then and there. Of course, she isn’t in such a hurry that she forgets to make a huge mistake:

No, honey, your husband is named Dwayne. This is Harvey Bul- Wait, let me check the last caption… Robert Flayton. Seriously? He’s got a ‘Flay’ in his name? You know what? I’m sticking with ‘Harvey’.

Oh, the establishing shot. What has it been, ten pages since we’ve had one of you? More importantly, what’s that caption doing there? Is there a chance that the reader would have forgotten what point we were at in the story, or why they were at the hospital?

Eve heads out to see her husband, who’s wheelchair-bound out in the yard. She carefully approaches him from behind and starts to introduce herself using the wrong name, which creates another writing error that proves this was never read aloud-

Intellectually, cutting off a name two letters in suggests what it sounds like to stop saying that name halfway in. If my name were David, and I stopped short in saying it you’d write that ‘It’s Da-‘, and aloud it would sound like I was saying ‘It’s Day’. But that doesn’t work with the name Eve. Once you’ve made the ‘vuh’ sound, you’re done saying the name. It’s not like stopping short makes you accidentally say the word ‘Ehv’.

Wow, did I just write an entire paragraph about how he should have written ‘It’s E… It’s Susan’ instead? I’m pretty sure I did.

Sus- I mean Eve, is then faced with a dilemma about what to do when faced with her sleeping husband. The decision is so tough that while debating it mentally, she transforms into a cyclops!

Apparently what Susan would do is take a vial of vampire blood out of her vest, stare at it for a couple of frames, and then walk away. Um, what? If ever there was a panel that demanded some expository narration or a little mumbling to herself, this is it. Is she considering drinking the blood and using superpowers to kill him? Feeding him the blood to heal him? Is she just looking at the blood and considering the life it offers her, as opposed to the life that she used to have?

I guess we’ll never know, because she wanders off without saying anything or doing anything.

If that wasn’t confusing enough, just wait until you see what happens next! Eve tells Harvey she’d like to talk to him in private, then shoves him into a broom closet. So Harvey responds by, while talking about how he’d hoped the reunion would go well, pulling a gun! She kicks the gun out of his hand, knocks him to the floor, and walks away.


Did I miss something? Why is Harvey suddenly trying to kill her? How did she know he was going to try to kill her? How did he get that gun on an airplane? I know it’s possible for a guy to get a license to transport a gun across state lines (if he’s very lucky or well-connected), but even then it would have to be in his luggage, and why would Eve have let him bring a suitcase as they rushed to the plane – or pack his gun?

None of this makes a lick of sense!

And do we get any explanation for it? No! All we see is Eve walking away while Nick, Ash’s other sidekick watches her leave and chats with Ash on a cell phone!

It seems the whole thing with the invalid husband was a setup by Ash. How, exactly? Well, he exlpains that he didn’t necessarily want Eve to reconcile with her husband, he just wanted to show her how mortal life was better than the life of the vampire that he leads.

You know, if that was your plan, I’m pretty sure there’s a better way to show her great parts of mortal life that don’t involve hanging out with crippled, abusive husband. Perhaps a trip to Rio for Carnivale? Going up in the ferris wheel on Coney Island?

Really anything other than being sent to hang out with her abusive husband in a convalescent home would have been an improvement.

Also, how exactly did having Harvey try to kill her fit into all of this?

Actually, all of that wasn’t the craziest part of this entire sequence. No, that’s Ash’s end of the conversation, which is taking place deep in a cavern filled with Roman ruins.

Where he’s able to get a cell phone signal.

Anyhow, there’s a little joke in these panels wherein Ash is talking on the phone while a vampire is sneaking up on him. I mentio this because it’s almost impossible to tell what’s supposed to be happening in these panels. Take a look:

So he senses the vampire is coming up behind him, right?

Naturally, he switches hands, keeps talking, and reaches for his sword. Up until this moment, I’d never noticed that Ash only has four fingers on his right hand. And a weird, indistinct stump on his left.

Now he’s sitting on the floor, and the sword is back, and he’s changed hands again, but the vampire behind him is in the process of being slashed. Huh? Also, the vampire was slashed from right to left at neck level, so I don’t know how one swing could possibly caused both the beheading and the breaking of his sword. Really, this panel makes it look not like Ash has just really quickly cut a dude, but more like someone else took care of it for him at the last minute.

That’s the end of the episode, more or less, with one last scene of Eve returning home to discover that Lord Ash bought her a cake for her birthday. Which is kind of a happy ending, I suppose?

Then it’s time for a new chapter, which means it’s time for another unatributed quote!

No, we’re not collectively seeing things, that’s Italian. Which means that David likely didn’t write this one, and the quotes are probably deserved! A quick trip to the old webternet confirmed my suspicions. Apparently it’s an Italian proverb that means ‘if you scatter thorns, wear shoes’. A translation or sourcing would have been nice here, but I’m guessing that David recognizes that we live in the age of googlepedia, and can find out who orginally said something for ourselves. Ethical? No. But certainly realistic. So let’s see if the other ones are actual quotes!

Yeah, I checked, and they’re not. Now I feel a little silly for having checked. Although it really seems like he should be differentiating actual sourced quotes from the ones he’s writing, even if it’s just by sourcing the quotes to fictional characters within the world of his comic.

Finally we have a somewhat necessary caption! If that wasn’t there we wouldn’t know all that information! Unless, of course, you’d put a snow-covered tree at the front of the frame with a really long shadow. Oh, and the guys in the next couple of panels speak Italian, so the Italy thing is kind of a given. Which would make people who know anything about geography assume these are the Alps.

I guess this wasn’t necessary at all. Sorry.

The guy in the truck is sneaking Eve into an isolated area so they can kill someone. He’s some sort of a commando who rankles at the idea of bringing her along. I’m not sure why she has to sneak into the country in a small container in the back of the truck – the vampires clearly don’t have any problems with fake IDs, and it’s not like she’s a wanted criminal.

There’s not a lot to comment on in this story until the end, as it’s mostly action, and it would just be petty of me to point out all the art foibles in an independent comic. I’m sure the artist knows what’s wrong here and is working to fix it. So I’m just going to stick to three examples. Okay, four. Wait… five.

Where does the wall begin and the floor end here? I thought it was along the shadow on the left there, but the broken glass tells a different story. This is what happens when you don’t bother with backgrounds: You lose all sense of geography. Also, it’s here we discover the name of the vampire Nazi she’s there to capture. Frederic Necker.

He’s a vampire, and his name is Necker. I’m going to close my eyes for a little while.

Back again. This confrontation leads to a fight between Eve and the vampire lord... Necker... which quickly moves outside into the snow. Necker proves more than a match for his human opposition, and quickly has her on the ropes.

Whose angle is this from? Is it a POV shot? How is he holding his arms that he could possibly see her that far away at that angle?

This is less of an ‘art’ thing, and more of a flat-out impressed note at the choice of sound effects. I don’t know how he came up with ‘BLAMSCRAK’ as the combined noise of a gunshot along with a knee being hit by a bullet. Wow.

Also, a couple of panels earlier ‘Necker’ was shot in the eye. Does being shot in the head kill vampires, or doesn’t it?

Admittedly I haven’t been near a handsaw in a while, so it’s possible that they’re making them out of mirrors now, and I just haven’t been told.

Wait, is it a magic saw? Because I’m sure that’s what’s keeping it attached to that guy’s belt. Magic.

With the nefarious Senor Necker killed with a bullet to the head and stake to the chest, we move on to the next scene, which takes place right after Necker’s trial.

Wait, his trial?

What the hell does it take to kill a vampire these days?

Anyhow, we finally discover the reason behind this whole endeavour. It seems that the old guy Eve is partnered with is a JDL assassin, and he needed the help of good vampires to take down a Nazi vampire. Actually, you know what? That’s not a bad story at all. If only we’d found this out before the last scene, the actions might have had some weight. Maybe we could have gotten a flashback to the villain’s time vamping it up for Hitler, or a little of the JDL’s backstory, and the time he failed to kill a nazi because it was a vampire, and what it did to him as a person? Throwing this whole premise away for a generic action story seems like a waste.

There’s a little comedy gold right at the end of the story, as Vampire Lord Ash gets really, really indignant:

Does this mean there are vampire courts? Or did they take him to the Hague to be tried at night? More importantly, why is he being given life? So human nazis responsible for genocide get executed, even though locking them up for life would still be a death sentence eventually, but a vampire nazi, which is, by definition, worse than a regular nazi, gets to live on indefinitely? Also, what’s going on with Necker’s response? Is he saying Lord Ash worked with the Nazis as well? Ash won’t let the comment stand, though – he points out that Necker just used being a vampire as an excuse for being evil, because, as everyone knows, vampires aren’t naturally evil! Seriously? That’s the message?

Anyhow, this comment gets to Necker because:

Boom! You tell him, Ash, in your ridiculously awkwardly-phrased way! You go and use the kind of moral lesson I’d expect to see on a Full House episode to scold that vampire Nazi! And check out the minor changes from panel to panel – there’s three shots where they’re essentially in the same positions, and I don’t think the artist cut and pasted any of it. He actually drew that cylinder three different times. Way to go, artist. And inker, obviously. Also, how can you not love that expression on the vampire Nazi’s face in panel 1! He looks like a sad puppy.

Man, I love those two panels.

The segment then ends with the cylinder being lowered into the ground and being covered with cement, which seems like a pretty bad punishment (oh, no! He’s going to be awake down there forever!), but it’s shockingly ineffective. What’s to stop someone from just digging the guy up in ten years? Or five? If you want to punish a guy for being a genocidal vampire, you kill him. It’s a suitable punishment, and you also never have to worry about him returning to genocide at some point in the future.

And don’t tell me vampires have a code against killing other vampires. That’s basically all we’ve seen Ash and Eve do in this entire comic book. The only possible explanation is that the vampire president has stacked the vampire supreme court with a bunch of pro-unlife zealots who don’t approve of the redeath penalty.

Oh, and apropos of this – I would totally read the comic about vampire court. I may write a comic about vampire court.

One more chapter to go, folks, which means one more quote:

You know what’s great about this quote? He could have cut it one word short and tried to give it the portentious air that the other quotes have. But no, he put in the Eve and let us know that this is the way that Lord Ash actually talks. Also, it suggests that this will be a story about Eve averting a disaster by having sex with someone. So there’s that.

Ooh, it’s starting in high school! Because for a comic that’s largely about vampire (and vampire-wannabe) angst, the one thing that was obviously missing was highschool melodrama.

The story’s about a picked-on loser named Teddy who’s decided to start studying magic in his spare time. It’s obvious that Teddy has turned to the occult because he doesn’t like the constant ostracism of his jock peers. Although, and I don’t mean to be a backseat disaffected youth, but if you don’t like being teased and mocked by the jocks, why are you electing to study your magic books in the gym bleachers during basketball practice?

Do people playing high school basketball still need to be told not to carry? Don’t they cover that in like grade 5?

Teddy’s odd decision to study in the stands during gym class comes to a predictable result when one of the players bounces a basketball off his head. This gives Teddy a chance to spout some cliched anti-establishment stuff to the gym teacher before storming off to the library where he should have been in the first place.

Meanwhile Eve waits in a coffee shop across the street – she knows that something magical is going on with someone in the school, and she’s sure it’s Teddy! Now she just has to intervene somehow…

Things take a turn for the strange now, since Teddy, while studying in the library, is approached by a pretty girl who is inexplicably attracted to his arrogant broodiness and invites him to the school dance that night. Then Teddy heads out into the halls, and finds himself mocked because… and I can’t believe I have to type this, everyone sees the erection that the brief physical contact with a woman has given him.

Seriously? Why didn’t he just stay at the table in the library until he’d… uh... calmed down? Even stranger, the images actually suggest that Teddy wasn’t aware of his condition until people start pointing and laughing.

Yeah, that’s impossible. Just saying. Totally impossible. I’m very familiar with the standard comedy situation of having a guy being asked to write an answer on a blackboard and trying to offer an excuse so he won’t have to stand up while engorged, but this just doesn’t happen. No one could not know.

This leads to Teddy running away screaming weak approximations of profanities. Eve witnesses this, and despite the fact that she’s there to sort out a black magic problem, and has just seen the black magician fleeing the scene in severe emotional distress, she doesn’t intervene in any way. No, instead she just parks outside his house, watching him with binoculars.

When she finally gets around to approaching the house she spots Teddy getting ready to masturbate in his room, and I can’t believe I had to type that, either. So what does she do? Hang out on the playground swing next door for a few hours. Seriously, a few hours. Check out the time lapse between these two panels.

So Eve just left a black magician alone in his room for a few hours. Yet for some reason she’s surprised to hear the sound of black magic from his open window. You know, for an action-intensive wannabe vampire, she’s really dropped the ball on this one. She also drops the ball in coming up with an excuse for her failure, in the amazing next panel-

You forgot? Am I to assume this means that you’ve forgotten your extensive experience of watching teenage boys masturbate? More importantly, you left him alone in there for four hours - exactly how long were you expecting him to take? When you were peeping through windows in high school did you only look in on guys who enjoyed marathon eight-hour wanking sessions?

Oh, ‘Dusk’, if nothing else, you’ve forced me to write sentences I never imagined. So it’s been an experience in expanding my writing ability. In directions I’d hoped to never expand it.

Anyhow, Eve breaks into his house and demands that he stop the spell. They rush over to the high school and discover that everyone (except his would-be girlfriend) is covered in magical fire. Eve demands that he stop the spell, but he’s unable to. Which gets us another really confusing panel:

Please, somebody, could you tell me who’s saying that? The bubble is clearly pointed at Eve, but it only makes sense if Teddy’s saying it, because of the again. Eve actually does try to stop it with magic soon after, but that was the first time she'd tried.

We then discover the reason he can’t stop the spell – it won’t end unless he stops being angry at the people he cursed. Teddy announces that he won’t do that, and Eve tries to give him the standard speech about how things get better after high school. He’s unconvinced, so Eve tells him plan B: she shoots him in the head, and the spell goes away. And he’s okay with that.

Yeah, you kind of lost me there, guy. Here are the two options Teddy’s presented with 1: he stops the spell. Result: Everyone lives. 2: he doesn’t stop the spell, she shoots him. Result: He dies, everyone else lives.

Faced with those two options, he chooses number B. And we’re treated to another amazing sound effect.

Oh, Eve, don’t you realize that if you’d just had sex with him like Ash told you to this whole situation could have been avoided? The story wraps up with a sad shot of Teddy’s never-named would-be girlfriend crying over his corpse. Actually, you know, what? We should see that, and the dialogue bubble associated with her feelings.

And that’s it for Dusk, at least until volume 2 comes out (it’s advertised in the back of the issue)! There’s a few more quotes on the back page, but they’re all dialogue from the actual issue, so there's no point in excerpting them here.

So, then, final thoughts. As usual, I’m just going to go ahead and recommend that next time around David Doub should Write Harder. There’s plenty of good concepts here, the vampire society, the monster hunting, Eve’s backstory, hell, how can I criticize the story that indirectly led to the creation of my own upcoming independent black and white graphic novel: “Vampire Court: Pale Justice*”? It’s just all so rushed and superficial that we’re never able to get a sense of why anything’s happening. Take for example the last story. How did Eve know about the black magic? Do they have psychics on the team that see the future? Are the tracking the sale of grimoires? Beyond how absolutely terrible a job she did on her mission, what was she doing there in the first place?

I think the biggest problem is the episodic format. This isn’t a collection of comics, it’s a complete hundred page ‘graphic novel’. I’m not saying that marketing it as such created a completely false expectation with the audience, I’m just saying that when you hand people a 100-page book they’re going to expect some kind of a through-line, and this barely had the makings of a continuing story. Hell, the closest thing to a running storyline was the fact that Eve’s crush on Ash is mentioned in the first two segments. But that’s dropped entirely for the last two, so there’s nothing in depth or any real resolution.

All of these problems are heightened by the languid pace that the story follows, typical of modern comics and their ‘decompressed storytelling’. This is a hundred page book with four stories – but in each of those stories so little happens that they don’t work as satisfying independent tales. I hope that next time around David considers putting the space he has to better use, and tries telling a story with a little more meat to it. I’m sure I’ll be there to read it. And give it a really long, nitpicky review. Because that’s what I do. Hopefully it can serve as a signpost for those reviewers who come after me.

If you’d like to purchase Dusk, just click here to head over to Amazon, where it’s for sale right now!**

(*VAMPIRE COURT: PALE JUSTICE and all related characters, concepts, and situations are sole creation of, and remain copyrighted, R, and TM Count Vardulon, 2009)

(**Full disclosure - I have not signed up for Amazon's affiliate program, so if you buy the graphic novel after clicking on that link, I will get NO MONEY AT ALL. I thought it was important to mention that just in case a reader who was otherwise considering buying the comic might have decided not to in an attempt to deprive me of profit. Don't worry, gentle soul, you may buy it in peace and confidence.)

No comments: