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Synopsis "Rise of the Vampires Part 2: Blame It On Cain" (20-pages)
Previous in Justice League Dark #7 (May 2012) — Andrew Bennett’s teenage ally Tig killed him in the belief that his death would destroy all the vampires sired by Mary, the self-styled “Queen of Blood”. However, Bennett’s death has somehow awoken an extremely powerful primordial vampire called Cain. His return attracted the attention of Madame Xanadu’s team of damaged mystics who have come to Gotham City to investigate. They found that Cain was stealing all the magic, severely limiting their abilities. Xanadu has travelled into the Astral Plane to speak with the Crystal One while Deadman and Constantine have gone into the afterlife to find Bennett’s soul.
Bennett find himself in a white nothingness between worlds. A disembodied voice speaks to him telling him that his “work is unfinished”. The voice explains to Andrew that Cain formed himself from the primordial darkness through sheer effort of will. He existed before life and magic, and could bend the rules of the new creation to his own whim. Cain eventually found a woman cast out from “God’s Kingdom” and fed on her body becoming the first vampire. Together they were a terrifying force for evil until an army of mystical warriors defeated and imprisoned Cain. The seal on his prison was another vampire, one who retained his humanity, Andrew Bennett. Bennett’s death broke that seal and freed Cain. The voice tells Bennett that “Cain is death” and that only Bennett can defeat him.
Back in the mortal world, Batman, Tig, and Troughton retreat from the Gotham City Courthouse where they first confronted Mary’s vampires. They fall back to a roof top position where they are found by Zatanna and Shade the Changing Man. With the vampire hunters bolstered by the new arrivals Batman leaves to check on the rest of his city.
Cain has taken control of Mary’s vampire army. His calls for them to kill all the humans results in Mary telling him to cool down — she wanted to conquer, not destroy. However, Cain throws her aside and starts channelling magic into the army turning them against her. Mary is left to ally herself with the humans as the only way of possibly defeating Cain. They recognise the uneasy alliance as Cain finishes absorbing the magic. He finishes directing the magic outward into his army, removing their natural weaknesses — beheading, sunlight, etc — , making them virtually unstoppable.
I, Vampire #7 is the second part of the Rise of the Vampires crossover with Justice League Dark. I, Vampire has been one of those books that has walked a fine line between decompressed epic and self contained chapters. Each issue has its own definite tone and I’ve never felt that the story hasn’t moved forward. The inclusion of this cross over slows that down, but this issue is definitely a step up from Chapter 1 where Peter Milligan has to do a certain amount of exposition and heavy lifting.
Visually this book is excellent — the limbo like stillness of wherever Andrew Bennett is contrasts nicely with the dark, bloody horror of Gotham City. Cain’s origin is told in a double-page spread with a woodcut like effect. It works nicely and underscores the gravitas of the new villain. He’s one of those characters who exists as a force of nature, a nihilist, and doesn’t really require a motivation or a deep psychological examination. Andrea Sorrentino’s design builds on the haunting look he’s given Mary and creates a visually unique character. His ascension in the final pages also makes good use of the old concentric circles comic book trope.
Hoards of badguys crawling around the Gotham City court house, why do I feel like I’m back in Batman: Arkham City?
Surveying The Internets
Tony Guerrero (Comic Vine) recommends the series:
Don’t let your distaste for vampires stop you from reading this book. This is one of best new titles to come out of the “New 52.” Fialkov and Sorrentino are consistently delivering a great book month after month.
This issue has shifted the focus of this series away from Andrew and on to Mary. That has interested a number of reviewers. Joshua Yehl (IGN) says that:
The emergence of Cain has all sorts of horrible ramifications, but the best one is how vampire queen Mary reacts to it. Things are not going according to her plan and suddenly Fialkov suddenly has readers sympathizing with the character who not one issue ago they wanted to see staked and decapitated with a vengeance.
While Don MacPherson (Eye on Comics) says that:
I did enjoy Fialkov’s take on Mary in this story. I like her colloquial tone; she stands out as the only voice of reason, the only person with any power or any clue. The role reversal of the series villain as savior was a lot of fun.
That critique doesn’t mean the story is weak, it just means it could have been stronger. It’s a testament to the arc Fialkov with Andrea Sorrentino on the pencils has created that strong characters like Batman, Zatanna, and Madame Xanadu are unwanted interlopers shoehorned into a story that doesn’t need them and is not improved by their addition.
Minhquan Nguyen also enjoyed Sorrentino’s art:
Sorrentino is still a perfect fit for the title, making the grit and blood of the city and characters look almost romantic with his shadowy work. He does an especially standout job on the recounting of Cain’s origins, giving it a quasi-engraved, Inferno aesthetic that meshes terrifically with the dark, ancient, celestial tale.
|Character Site||The Captain's JLA Homepage||Jason Kirk||3.5/5|
|Digital Comics||Comixology||125 ratings||4/5|
|Reviews Portal||Comic Vine (staff)||Tony Guerrero||5/5|
|Reviews Portal||IGN||Joshua Yehl||8.5/10|
|Community Site||Comic Vine||3 reviews||4.33/5|
|Community Site||iFanboy||376 pulls||4.1/5|
|Magazine||Crave Online||Andy Hunsaker||7.5/10|
|Blogs||Eye on Comics||Don MacPherson||5/10|
|Blogs||Modern Media Myth||Jason O. Logan||B+|
|Blogs||Weekly Comic Book Review||Minhquan Nguyen||B-|
|Blogs||X-Man's Comic Blog||x-man75||6.5/10|
Page 1. This is Andrew Bennett, the vampire of the I, Vampire title. He was absent from the first chapter of this crossover in Justice League Dark #7 (May 2012) on account of him being dead. See the prologue to our review of Justice League Dark #7 (May 2012) for a summary of his New 52 adventures.
Page 6-7. The origin of Cain. There are a few things here that have resonances with other characters and events, whether that is intentional I’m not sure.
- Darkness — The character of Shade (Richard Swift, not JLD’s Rac Shade) is able to control shadows summoned from a place called the Shadowlands, the place the primordial darkness retreated to after the light was summoned into existence. That sounds like the primordial darkness from whence Cain came.
- Cain — The name Cain itself refers to a character from the Bible. In their own mind every murderer has a reason, but most people forget Cain’s reason. Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve. Cain was an agriculturalist (a farmer) while Abel pastoralist (a shepherd). They both sacrificed part of their output to god, but the big-G had rejected Cain’s perfectly good grain sacrifice in favour of Abel’s sacrifice of a dead lamb. From this we read that god logically hates vegetarians and is probably a carnivore. Cain took the view of “if he wants sodding meat, I’ll give him sodding meat” and kills Abel (who by this point was probably insufferably smug anyhow). Therein follows another divine hissy-fit, Cain is forced to get some ink done and wander Earth for all eternity. The irony of making Cain the first vampire is that he was the vegetarian and was cursed for being the one who didn’t deal with meat.
- DC’s Cain — There are earlier DC characters called Cain. The characters of Cain and Abel were two hosts of DC’s horror anthology titles in the 1970s. They were subsequently picked up by Neal Gaiman and incorporated into his Sandman mythology. A second Cain character appeared during the Final Crisis crossover as a spirit that was worshipped by the followers of the Crime Bible religion. It briefly possessed Vandal Savage during the Crisis.
- Lilith — The woman cast out form God’s Kingdom would probably be Adam’s first wife, Lilith. She refuses to take any of Adam’s do-as-I say shit and struck out on her own. Later misogynistic writers labelled her as the “mother of demons” and implied that she’s got off with a hole host of demons. Making her the consort of the primordial vampire plays on those stories. There is also a parallel here between the pairing of Cain and his unnamed woman and the pairing of Andrew Bennett and Mary Seward.
- Demon Knights — Cain met his match against an army of mystic warriors. No details are given, but that figure looks like Etrigan the Demon. I’m wondering if the Demon Knights didn’t have something to do with Cain’s defeat. How Andrew Bennett plays into that, and indeed, how long ago it was isn’t answered here.