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Synopsis "Rise of the Vampires Part 3: The Leaving" (20-pages)
Previously in Justice League Dark #7 (May 2012) and I, Vampire #7 (May 2012): – The vampire Andrew Bennett has been slain causing Cain, the primordial first vampire, to awaken. Cain has usurped control from Mary Seward of a massive vampire army that is current running rampant through Gotham City. He has neutralised their weaknesses by stealing all the magic. Zatanna and Rac Shade fight with Bennett’s friends to protect Madame Xanadu’s body while she seeks help on the astral plane. They also find themselves allied with Mary Seward (another vampire) against their common enemy. John Constantine and Deadman have travelled into the afterlife to find Andrew Bennett’s soul.
Deadman and Constantine plummet through the afterlife and find Bennett seated alone in the great white expanse of purgatory. They try to convince him to come back, but Bennett sees his current state as a fitting punishment for his inability to restrain Mary and her vampires.
Madame Xanadu’s body is defended from vampires while she journeys to the Astral Zone of a Buddha like entity called the Crystal One. Cain has siphoned the world’s magic into himself so Xanadu successfully petitions for the Crystal One to direct it to somebody more “worthy” instead. Cain senses the change as Madame Xanadu returns to the mortal plane. Rac Shade had been helping to defend her body, but his M-Vest erupts as he finally looses control of its reality warping abilities. He fades from this world into another where Kathy, or his recreation of her, is solid and well. They walk off into the sunset and Xanadu whispers “Goodbye, Changing Man.”
Xanadu, Zatanna, and Mary are left behind. Zatanna says that she does not want to wait to be overwhelmed. They charge Cain, but he easily bests them. Zatanna has just enough power to teleport them to Robinson Park, but Cain quickly follows. Deadman and Constantine reappear from the afterlife, but Bennett has refused to follow them. They ready themselves for Cain’s final onslaught when the wind suddenly changes direction. The Crystal One’s intervention has finally propagated and Gotham’s defenders sense the change. The dust swirling around them suddenly forms into the body of a reincarnated Andrew Bennett.
- Bennett has lived for 600 years putting the date of his birth sometime in circa 1400.
- Shade has been suffering from growing mental problems stemming from the accidental death of his girlfriend Kathy. He leaves the team with this issue.
This is the third part of the “Rise of the Vampires” crossover and Peter Milligan’s final issue on the series. His run has been an unusual one. The first arc, the establishment of the team, was cracking fun, but they never really got to do anything as a specific team. Even their appearances in this crossover felt like they are just there to support Andrew Bennett. I wouldn’t mind that so much, but this 4-part crossover could easily have been 2-part I, Vampire story with a JLD guest-appearance.
This chapter is Milligan’s last chance to put the house in order before Jeff Lemire gets here. Shade the Changing Man gets written out of the story, and possibly even the DC Universe. He was one of Milligan’s signature characters so its understandable that he’s been parked somewhere safe. His arc has been interesting, but I guess we’ll never get any sold answers about who Kathy was in the New DCU.
Deadman and John Constantine seem to be developing into this series odd-couple. They are the team’s least and most obviously superhero characters. Okay, Boston Brand is actually wearing a circus outfit, but he looks to all intents like a superhero. Conversely, John Constantine is a pure trenchcoater anti-hero. Each seems to be trying their best to undercut the other and to score the sarkiest quip.
That bring me onto something I didn’t expect about this series, the humour. There are genuinely funny moments amid all the death and blackness. I would hasten to say that the series is actually funnier than the main Justice League series. The short lived addition of Mary to the team has been fun and I wish she’d stick around. She’s certainly more fun that Bennett is — I kinda agree with Constantine’s assessment of prissy-boy vampires.
Daniel Sampere fills in for the entire issue this time around and does a respectable job handling the art on his own. Admira Wijaya’s colouring is noticeably brighter than the I, Vampire issues, but it serves this group of characters. There is still some problem with Zatanna’s face — its not confined to any one artist, but the New 52 Zatanna often seems rather indistinct facially.
Surveying the Internets
ACB liked how Milligan focused upon his own group and made these issue almost standalone:
Going from issue #7 to #8 was a pretty good transition. It doesn’t hurt to have read both series, but if you’ve only read this title, you’re not too terribly out of the loop as Peter Milligan has done a pretty good job at focusing specifically on his group in his title and put together a really cool and eerie story.
Several reviews picked up on the lacking of pacing/momentum in these issues. Tim Vinton (Player Affinity) said that:
Unfortunately, despite the improvements here, I think the real problem with the series right now is a fundamental flaw in the current story arc. There is no tension in these two issues. We have our heroes fighting an army of vampires in Gotham City and somehow that is boring. At the end of the day, there just aren’t any real stakes here, if you’ll forgive the vampire parlance.
While Kelly Thompson (Comic Book Resources) took issue with the lack of forward momentum in this story:
Almost nobody does anything of merit in the book. At one point Zatanna makes the bold decision that she’s no longer going to wait for her death but instead face it. Mary Queen of Blood and Xanadu join her and I mentally cheered that we were going to see something actually happen. But less than a page later the three of them fold and escape again without ever having made this “big stand.”
|Character Site||The Captain's JLA Homepage||Jason Kirk||3/5|
|Digital Comics||Comixology||158 ratings||4/5|
|Reviews Portal||Comic Book Resources||Kelly Thompson||2/5|
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|Magazine||Player Affinity||Tim Vinton||6.5/10|
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