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Comic Books that Bite

Vampire pop culture bleeds its way into the comic book universe.

Unless you’re a middle school-aged girl, maybe you’ve had your fill of vampires.

Sure, vampires haven’t always been portrayed as some angst-ridden emo kid that readily engages in battle with homoerotic were-wolves (Bram Stoker’s probably turning in his grave), but to the contrary, vampires weren’t always so lame.

I was blown away by the complexity of the psychological thriller I am Legend by Richard Matheson. However, the film adaptation of that novel featuring a soldierly scientist played by Will Smith was a severe disappointment, and it now seems that there’s no end in sight for the sorry path that contemporary vampire fables are careening down.

Now for the bad news: the laughable nature of vampire pop culture has managed to bleed its way into the realm of comic books and other media. The fad created around vampire-mania has caused publishers and producers to scramble in order to keep up with the demand for fresh blood.

It’s not uncommon that the release of new movies is paired with the release of new books based on movies such as The Crazies, G.I. Joe, and The Green Hornet. But I nearly puked in my hat when I saw these hot topic-esque characters polluting the pages of the newest X-Men comics, X-Men; Curse of the Mutants, written by Victor Gischler.

The X-Men have made the City by the Bay their new home which is honestly really cool to see Storm and Cyclops viewing a map showing highways 280 and 101 stretching from Millbrae to Hunters Point on a futuristic projection map that hangs suspended in space, but it’s pretty depressing to see yet another douche bag villain sitting atop a throne in some dark underground lair, leading a horde of fanged miscreants and voluptuous fiends hanging on to his every word.

Enough with the gripes, here’s the breakdown: some vampires launch a biological weapons attack on the streets of San Francisco; Jubilee is infected, which subsequently ropes the X-Men into a fight; Wolverine makes some sarcastic remarks; Blade (yes, the vampire killer played by Wesley Snipes on the big screen) shows up, and the newest line of X-Men books goes on sale for a buck a piece at Lee’s Comics.

As for the conclusion of this revamped tale, well, I couldn’t tell you because I was too busy playing with a really interesting fart app on my iPhone.

It seems that when it comes to vampire-themed comic books, if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all. There are only some slight variations from one book to another. The sliding scale of these books goes from Count Chocula to soft-core porn and its fairly simple to make the distinction from just glancing at the cover.

The soft-core porn vampire books tend to be a little more fun than the pathetic style of X-Men versus vampires, but only in the sense that they are laughable because they are totally cliche more so than actually being sexy.

One example is the story of Vampirella, written by Eric Trautmann and illustrated by Wagner Reis and Fabniano Neves­–more fiends, scantily clad antagonists speaking in high-falutin’ dialogue, blood, guts, decapitations–another predictable storyline. But hey, reading is always a healthy activity, especially on a lonely Friday night.

Now, on to the more moderate of this dagger-toothed genre of these books; American Vampire, written by Scott Snyder and Stephen King and illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque. American Vampire chronicles the tale of Skinner Sweet, a candy-obsessed racist vampire whose reign of terror spans from the time of the American Wild West into the days of the Roaring Twenties.

Although the premise of this five-part series might be a little worn, the overall story has a lot more depth and dimension than typical vampire books, thanks to the brilliant writing style of Stephen King.    

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