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Friday, December 12, 2008

“Impaler” Volume One TPB by William Harms, Nick Postic and Francis Tsai (Reviewed by Robert Thompson)

Official William Harms Website
Order “Impaler: Volume OneHERE
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Read Issue One HERE

ABOUT IMPALER: Acclaimed horror writer William Harms (Bad Mojo, Abel) teams with Nick Marinkovich (Nightwolf), Nick Postic (Underworld) and award-winning artist Francis Tsai (Marvel Comics Presents) to breath new, horrifying life into the classic vampire myth…

When one of the worst blizzards in modern history descends upon New York City, the blinding snow and wind are the least of the city’s problems. For hidden in the weather is a growing army of ravenous vampires, and humanity’s only hope lies with Vlad Tepes, the “historical Dracula”…

Impaler” has received accolades from countless sources, including
Rue Morgue magazine, Ain’t it Cool News, Cinescape, IGN Comics, and others. “Impaler” was also a finalist for the prestigious International Horror Guild Award.

CLASSIFICATION: Part vampire story and part end-of-the-world tale—think I Am Legend meets 28 Days Later with a little bit of Dracula mixed in—“Impaler” is for readers who like their horror grim, bloody, and visceral…

FORMAT/INFO: The “ImpalerVolume One Trade Paperback is 160 pages long and contains issues #1-3 of Impaler as well as the final three chapters of the initial storyline not available anywhere else. The graphic novel also includes an introduction by
F. Paul Wilson, the award-winning author of the Repairman Jack novels; an Afterword by William Harms; a Cover Gallery; the story’s Original Pitch with a different ending; a Deleted Scene; Character Designs & Sketches; and a 5-Page Preview of the new ongoing Impaler series that debuts on December 31, 2008.

Impaler” was created and written by William Harms. Chapters 1-4 were penciled and inked by Nick Postic with Nick Marinkovich providing the coloring and inks for Chapters 1-3.
Francis Tsai handled the penciling, inks and colors for Chapters Five and Six. The graphic novel was released to comic book stores on November 5, 2008 and made available on Amazon.com on November 14, 2008. “Impaler” is published by Top Cow.

ANALYSIS:Impaler” is an interesting concept that revolves around two main ideas: One, that Vlad Tepes—the Prince of Wallachia, also known as Vlad the Impaler or Dracula—sacrificed himself in 1460 to become an immortal warrior against the forces of darkness, blessed with supernatural powers. The other is that vampires are actually the bloodsucking spawn of a powerful demon that cannot be killed, only imprisoned. And unlike the vampires we are familiar with, these can “turn into shadows and morph their bodies into tentacles”, and seem mostly hell-bent on destroying everyone in the world. Cool right? Well it would be except the rest of the graphic novel is not up to par with the actual pitch…

The first problem is with the writing. Now William is pretty solid when it comes to developing the character of Victor Dailey, writing believable dialogue, and setting the stage for the vampires’ takeover of New York City and the subsequent chaos to follow, but in other areas he comes up short. For instance, Vlad Tepes as a vampire hunter is a wonderful twist, except as a character he’s flat and one-dimensional. This is because so little time is spent establishing the Wallachian prince aside from two very brief flashbacks. Not only that, but both Vlad and the vampires are plagued with unanswered questions like: What abilities does Vlad possess? How did he know that vampires had landed in New York City? Why can’t the Great Vampire be killed? Where did the demon come from? And so on. I’m sure a lot of these questions will be answered in the ongoing series, but still, William could have given readers a little more to go on. I also think the book would have benefited from a narrator, because at times the story is confusing and it’s hard to know what character we’re supposed to be following.

The second, and much bigger problem, is with the book visually. For starters, there are two artists penciling the graphic novel, each with vastly different styles, neither of which really complements the content, so there is little consistency. Of the former, Nick Postic’s artwork is wonderfully abstract and atmospheric, perfect for the subject matter, but is a liability when it comes to storytelling which is at times baffling and chaotic.
Francis Tsai meanwhile, has a much smoother and more coherent style that I personally prefer. It’s just not a style that works well with horror. Matt Timson, the artist chosen for the ongoing series, seems like a cross between the two, which is a nice compromise, but the artwork could still be much better. And in a graphic novel—where artwork is just as, if not more important than the writing—it’s a major issue, and a large reason why “Impaler” is unable to rise above mediocrity and into something more…

CONCLUSION:Impaler” is a great concept that fails to deliver on its promise. That said, William Harms has intrigued me and I’ll be keeping an eye on the ongoing series to see how it develops. In the meantime, someone needs to get the film rights to “Impaler” because the graphic novel would make an awesome movie :)

AUTHOR/ARTIST BIOS:

William Harms has been a professional writer and editor for over ten years. His comic book work has been published by
Marvel Comics, Image Comics, Caliber Comics, and AiT/PlanetLar. William currently works at Sucker Punch Productions, serving as the writer for inFamous, a superhero-themed open-world adventure game that will be released in 2009 exclusively for the PS3. Prior to joining Sucker Punch, William worked at Gas Powered Games, where he oversaw the writing for the bestselling Supreme Commander franchise.

Award-winning comic book artist, illustrator and concept artist
Francis Tsai has worked on the videogames Myst III and Star Trek: Hidden Evil; is a regular contributor to the ImagineFX magazine; worked for Wizards of the Coast and Warner Bros.; and wrote/illustrated the book “100 Ways to Create Fantasy Figures”. His comic book work includes Marvel Comics Presents, Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, and Mercy Thompson: Homecoming.

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