It feels like we’re at critical mass with vampires – and to a lesser extent, werewolves – in pop culture these days. The Twilight novels and films, then the various soppy, glossy TV dramas tapping into the craze, really pushed the once-fearsome beasties into the realm of saturation. Comics have fared better. American Vampire is fantastic. And, against the odds, I, Vampire came along too and managed to carve out its own niche. On the werewolf end of things, Extinct by Fabian Rangel Jr and Jethro Morales was an indie gem that covered the territory well. Is there room for another comic to squeeze in and do something new in the field? According to this first issue of Crimson Society, by writer Mike Hunau and artist Carlos Trigo, the answer is yes. The solution it finds to managing to feel fresh is not just telling a story of vampires or of werewolves, but of telling the story of a protagonist who is both a vampire and a werewolf!
Our hero, Jack Crimson, is a werewolf. He is duped by a scientist into taking vampire DNA, supposedly to cure him of his lupine affliction. But instead of curing him, the scientist instead grafts cybernetic arms onto him – seemingly biomechanical, perhaps fuelled by vampire blood – turning him into a vampire-werewolf-cyborg! A vampire-werewolf-cyborg. How cool is that? Credit to Hunau, he doesn’t make it just feel like a cheap gimmick, skillfully depicting the disorientation and panic Crimson is going through as a result of his unique condition.
However, if there’s a downside here, it’s that much of the plotting is quite opaque, with a lot of the explanation about what’s going on and the nature of Jack’s powers left for the reader to try and figure out. It could be that Hunau is simply holding his cards close to his chest, and is just preserving a sense of mystery until he can reveal the answers in future issues. But at this early stage a little bit more insight into who Jack Crimson is, what he does, and what is happening him could give the reader more to sink their teeth into and therefore leave them more invested in returning for those future issues. As it currently stands, it feels like the plot has barely gotten started and things are just getting interesting when the “To Be Continued…” caption flashes up.
Carlos Trigo’s art does its job well. It has a cartoony vibe that gives things a sense of fun and energy, while still versatile to have the grue be suitably be hard-hitting when called for, with exploding heads, trailing innards and wayward eyeballs. The bright colors of Andrea Celestini compliment this vibe well, with good use of deep reds. Trigo does some commendable work with POV shots, shifting us into Crimson’s point of view for an almost first-person shooter vibe for a couple of key sequences, which works well at casting us into his mindset. There’s also a surprising amount of beefcake – plenty of naked man-butt action for the ladies!
As far as first issues go, Crimson Society #1 is a bit light. However, it does have some charm to it, with inventive writing and vibrant art and colours managing to make this a worthwhile read.
Crimson Society #1 is available to buy from Comixology.