The Strain: The Fall #1
Written by Dane Lapham
Art by Mike Huddleston, Colour by Dan Jackson, Cover by EM Gist
Published By Dark Horse
If anything defines Guillermo del Toro, it’s enthusiasm and zeal. When he first envisioned The Strain, he saw a television series. When no one was interested, he had to settle for pairing with author Chuck Hogan for a trilogy of novels. When the books proved successful, a comic series came along, and now, apparently, the comic has shown enough promise to earn del Toro a shot at his initial dream: a tv series. FX has ordered a pilot, and if picked up, The Strain will air some time in 2014. Let that be a lesson, kids. Slavish dedication pays off. Even when, as in The Strain’s case, the material is merely mediocre.
The Strain: The Fall #1, David Lapham’s adaptation of the second book in the series, hurls readers back into the thick of the action. New York, now apparently more Vampire than Human, is a war zone. Monsters and gun wielding citizens roam the streets, looting is the norm, and innocents hide behind locked doors. Meanwhile, Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather and his various cronies attempt to defend against Eph’s infected, monstrous wife,who desperately seeks her son’s blood.
Lapham and artist Mike Huddleston do well to capture the moodiness and otherworldly quality that have become del Toro’s calling card, but The Fall never manages to overcome a lack of defining elements. Its spin on Vampirism as a dehumanizing epidemic is instantly familiar and rote to anyone with any exposure to modern zombie stories, to the point of almost seeming arbitrary. It also robs the Vampires of many of their most beloved traits, specifically their mystery and seductiveness. Eph’s attempts to defend his son from his wife would probably even be better served if she were closer to a traditional Vampire, meaning something closer to human. As it stands, she’s so far removed so as to be unrecognizable, which robs the dynamic of a lot of potential conflict and tragedy.
Generally, The Fall seems overly fixated on surface details. Future McGuffin The Occido Lumin is given plenty of backstory that’s full with exotic locations and name drops, but it’s never grounded in anything personal enough to define it as anything more than another piece of antiquity. In the end, The Strain: The Fall #1 feels like passion without purpose, and devotion without distinction. It’s simply an exercise in genre with too little to set it apart.