All Associated Cover/Issue Images
- John Constantine
- Do you know that you’ve got something growing out of your head?
- BatgirlNo, but sing it and I’ll whistle along.
Synopsis "Rise of the Vampires Part 1: Red Blood, Dark Magic" (20-pages)
Previously in I, Vampire #1-6:
Batman once observed that Andrew Bennett’s “name appears throughout the public records… I’ve seen sketches that date back to the renaissance, and clothing aside, he hasn’t aged a day.” The truth is that Andrew Bennett is a six-hundred year old vampire, one of the oldest on record. He has mellowed with age and can now resit the blood hunger that drives most vampires to kill people. He devotes his time to hunting down those of his kind who give into that hunger, it’s a war that he appeared to be winning.
Bennett’s great sin is that four centuries ago he turned (“sired”) a young serving girl called Mary Seward into a vampire. They were deeply in love and Bennett thought that turning her would allow them to be together as immortal lovers. However, Mary lacked Bennett’s control and wavered hot/cold on his philosophy. They remained together for four hundred years, tolerating the flaws they saw in each other, but still deeply in love. That recently changed when Mary declared that it was her intention to become a vampire freedom fighter, the “Queen of Blood”, who would free their kind and conquer the human cattle.
Mary secretly sired a new army of full-blood vampires who staged coordinated massacres in Boston, Star City, Los Angeles, and Coast City. Bennett barely survived a confrontation with her army in Boston and asked for help from his friend of thirty-years Professor John Troughton. They began tracking Mary and unwittingly recruited a psychotic teen vampire slayer called Tig Rafelson. Her father, Steve, was turned into a vampire when Tig was six-years-old. John Constantine and Bennett later encountered Steve Rafelson and killed him.
Mary left a challenge for Bennett to follow her to Gotham City. Bennett, Troughton, and Tig followed Mary’s trail and were intercepted by Gotham’s resident creature of the night, the Batman. With him they traced Mary’s vampires to the disused cells beneath the city’s Court House. They appeared to gain the upper-hand after Bennett killed one of the full-blood vampires so freeing dozens of humans who had recently been turned into vampires by it. Tig saw this and erroneously believed that destroying Bennett would free all vampires, including Mary and her clan, “descended” from him.
Tig stabbed Andrew Bennett from behind and severed his head. A vampire as old as Bennett should not be able to die unless he personally wills it to happen. At some level Bennett glimpsed the truth at what Tig was attempting and allowed himself to pass. However, the world’s vampires did not die, instead they screamed in unison as “the Sleeper”, Cain the first vampire, was awoken from his slumber. Their psychic cry was so powerful that it was even felt by the seer Madame Xanadu…
“Rise of the Vampires Part 1:ï¿½Red Blood, Dark Magic” (20-pages)
Xanadu tells the mages gathered in her parlour that something evil has awoken. Constantine had recently met Bennett and is all for leaving the vampires to their own devices. Zatanna prevents him from leaving and Rac Shade teleports them all into Gotham City. However, Shade’s M-Vest cannot penetrate into the heart of the chaos. He is having trouble believing in vampires and is becoming increasingly incoherent. A second jump brings them to a roof top deeper into the City — everywhere appears to be on fire and vampires roam openly in the streets attacking normals.
They spot Batgirl who is about to be overwhelmed by a vampire group. Deadman and Constantine jump in to help her and she recognises them as “Zatanna’s team” (much to Constantine’s consternation). However, some outside force is limiting their magical abilities — Zatanna’s spells do not work, Shade’s vest is increasingly erratic, and even Constantine’s attempt at a magic circle dissolves before his eyes. Batgirl has to leave on Batman’s orders. At that moment Batman is across town fighting for his life alongside with Bennett’s allies Professor Troughton and Tig.
Xanadu senses that the cause of their impotence is Cain, the first vampire, who is “stealing all the magic”. She orders Constantine and Deadman to find Andrew Bennett’s soul in the afterlife while her astral-self goes elsewhere. She leaves Zatanna and Shade are left to defend her body. Constantine’s method of getting into the afterlife is suitably unique — the sacrifice of a dead rat and whisky for holy water — but, it works. Shade teleports Zatanna and Xanadu’s body to Batman’s fight while Xanadu’s spirit travels to the Astral Zone of the Crystal One to petition him for help. The Crystal One asks whether she truly understands what she is asking of him to do and whether she is prepared for how her allies will be hate her afterwards? She answers, “Yes, Yes, I am.”
I’ve been reading I, Vampire alongside the other Dark titles and I must say that its one of the more enjoyable books of the New 52. Joshua Hale Fialkov has done a remarkable job in reintroducing DC’s old Gothic vampire in a new and interesting manner. The old version of Andrew Bennett had a great sense of Gothic pathos, but he was never that interesting after the cancellation of his original feature. Fialkov injects a huge amount of energy into the concept by completely stripping it back and not worrying too much about explaining every detail of Andrew and Mary’s history. He has also shown that he can write a pretty good John Constantine in a pre-crossover guest-appearance. That brings us to this issue.
Justice League Dark #7 follows on directly from issue #6 of both this series and I, Vampire. Peter Milligan picks up the baton from Fialkov and draws his Dark group into the vampire mix. The result plays out quite organic and doesn’t feel forced. I know that Bennett will emerge as a JLD team-mate at the end of all this and so far he feels like a natural fit. Strangely, as he’s dead, Bennett doesn’t actually appear in this chapter.
This isn’t a traditional first chapter of a crossover, all the details have already been set-up so there isn’t much to go other than to escalate the danger. The mages lose their magic, Xanadu goes for a walk, and vampires are shown being scary. That’s all fun stuff, but I was left wondering what on Earth had happened to the dialogue? Why have all the characters suddenly annunciating what they are doing. I understand that some concessions have to be made during a cross over, but this really feels like its written by the other Peter Milligan — you know, the guy that writes Red Lanterns.
Mikel Janin takes a rest this issue and is replaced by Admira Wijaya and Daniel Sampere. They good in their own right, but neither of them is quite as good as Janin.
Surveying the Internets
Milligan handles this crossover in just the right manner. His characters are slightly befuddled and confused on what’s going on, piecing the facts together along with the reader. It’s the best way to ease non-”I, Vampire” readers into the story and it makes for a good flow.
While Schedeen adds that:
Another plus to this crossover is that it doesn’t have to be viewed as a crossover at all. The two issues merely examine the conflict from opposite perspectives, meaning JL Dark readers are free simply to move onto the next issue in April if they so choose.
That isn’t to say that the issue is perfect. Tim Vinton (Player Affinity) held that it had issues, but still delivered:
This is certainly now the worst issue in the series, but this time I can’t even offer the same backhanded compliment. In the end, there are still characters I like fighting vampires and something has to be said for that.
However, your mileage will of course depend on how much you like vampires as Pierce Lydon (Newsarama) put its,
I wish we’d end the fascination with vampires. I understand that our culture”s obsession with youth, overwrought romance and Robert Pattinson’s quaff have endeared us to the eternally lovelorn bloodsuckers but enough is enough.
The temporary replacement of Mikel Janin with a pair of guest-artists also drew comment from Andy Hunsaker (Crave Online):
Admira Wijaya’s expressive art on the first eight pages rates a skosh higher than Daniel Sampere’s art on the back 11, but they’re close enough to blend almost seamlessly into each other – perhaps helped by Wijaya handling the coloring as well.
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Page 1. This issue continues on immediately from “” and I, Vampire #6. Bennett was killed by a misguided vampire slayer called Tig Rafelson. Constantine met Bennett quite recently, in I, Vampire #4 when he helped kill a vampire who turned out to be Tig’s father.
Page 4. Manchester ain’t so bad — not compared to Birmingham anyhow.
Page 7. Batgirl. For those of you not reading Gail Simone’s excellent Batgirl series, this is Barbara Gorgon, the original Batgirl healed and back in action.
Page 9. This is the second time that Deadman has been thrown out of a body recently. The same happened when he tried to possess John Constantine’s filthy demon-blood infused body, although it was implied that that was more of a reflex reaction than an actual expulsion. Speaking of Constantine, he just produces a mean-sized hatchet from the recesses of his trench coat. That kind of preparedness begins to rival the utility belt.
Page 11. Zatanna again references her father Zatara.
Panel 1. This is Cain. The primal vampire that Tig awakened when she killed Andrew Bennett. However, he is not literally the Biblical Cain. Joshua Hale Fialkov told io9 that:
Panel 3. Batman you probably know. The man with glasses is Professor John Troughton, an academic and vampire hunter, who Bennett has known since he saved him from vampire hippies some 30-years ago. Troughton may be the closest thing that Bennett has to a friend.
The girl with green hair is Tig, the impulsive teenage vampire slayer who causes this entire mess. She first appeared in I, Vampire #3 and it is possible that she is a latent vampire herself, she seemed to sense their presence — a known vampire trait.
Page 20. The Astral Plane of the Crystal One.