Story: Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
Script: David Lapham
Artist: Mike Huddleston
Colours: Dan Jackson
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Having previously reviewed the entire series, my thoughts on The Strain haven’t changed. So I have added parts of my original review for newcomers who are interested in picking this up. Those who are looking for my thoughts on the extras contained within the trade should scroll below- Sean
Now that the filth of Twilight is behind us, horror fans can peek out from their enclaves and reclaim the vampire genre from the greasy clutches of angst-ridden tweens. With Veritgo’s American Vampire taking a hiatus this year, there is a vampire sized hole in the entertainment world that needs to be filled. Luckily we have Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s epic vampire trilogy The Strain. Originally a series of novels, The Strain has been adapted into comic format by Dark Horse Comics. The first series, spanning 11 issues, are based on the premiere novel in the trilogy. FX has also ordered a pilot to turn the novels into an ongoing television series, which was Del Toro’s original intention. It seems that The Strain is going to be around for a while, but is this a vampire saga you can sink your teeth into?
The first series in the trilogy kicks off with an ominous airplane landing. This being a horror series, you can bet this plane is anything but normal. Trapped in the cabin of the plane are 198 deceased passengers. The mystery grows when Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, a CDC employee charged with solving this mystery, discovers three survivors and an empty wooden coffin. Following the event’s closely on a television set half way across town, Holocaust survivor Professor Abraham Setrakian has seen this all before, and knows a war is coming. Soon enough, the dead from the plane rise up and begin spreading terror, and a vampiric plague, across New York City. Now it’s up Ephraim, Abraham and a rag-tag bunch of survivors to stop the plague and save the city before all of humanity is lost.
Ephraim, our main protagonist, is a dead-beat father with a drinking problem, just trying to do right by his son. It’s this need to protect those he loves that fuels his fire and turns him into the hero this story needs. His journey is relatable and rewarding, especially when he gets his hands on a nail gun. Outside of Eph, The Strain feature a strong ensemble cast. Each character is unique yet non-obtrusive, unless they need to be. One complaint however would be against the Master, the head of the vampires. His one sided goal for world domination makes him the least interesting character in the story. With the second part of the trilogy on the horizon, hopefully his storyline becomes more fleshed out. The ‘evil because he’s evil’ shtick just isn’t cutting it.
This trade collects the final 6 issues of the series which means if you haven’t read the first part, you really should, because it’s a great series. Dark Horse meanwhile, has done an exemplary job with this trade by packing it with extras that fans of the series will love.
With over 30 pages of sketches, readers are treated to a goldmine for anyone curious about the creative process. It is very interesting to see how the characters change from initial sketch to final panel. Not only that, but we are provided with Del Toro’s notes and directions for his vision.
The Strain Vol. 2 is a great collection, beautifully packaged and a must own for any horror fan. With Del Toro’s Pacific Rim right around the corner, now is the perfect time to catch up on his work.