Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Super-Powered Comics: The DC heroes battle the Supernatural Big Two!

Thanks to the fine folks at my local library I have been able to read a copy of the preposterously long titled Superman & Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves. The premise is as simple as the name sounds, but the carry-through is far more convoluted.

Written by former Valiant mainstay Kevin VanHook and drawn by veteran penciler Tom Mandrake, the book strangely doesn’t feature Superman for the first couple issues. When he finally does arrive he does pay an essential role, although I could argue that characters like Green Arrow and the Demon are just as important. Oh, did I mention the bland werewolf and vampire heroes added to fight the threat? Or the appearances by Nightwing, Wonder Woman, and Man-Bat? More oten than not, this series really feels like “lets throw this against the wall and see if it sticks”. It’s main problem, is it rarely does.

Mandrake is an able artist, although his style is definitely more fitting to Batman’s world than Superman’s. He evokes Gene Colan quite often, specifically Colan’s work on Tomb of Dracula and Night Force. But the style seems a little off-putting when it is used to draw four-color heroes.

The story seems less an attempt to introduce vampires and werewolves to the DC universe as a whole and more a back door pilot for the vampire hero Dimeter. Unfortunately, he seems like a bland attempt to make a white Blade (the movie version). Never does he feel like a real attempt at even developing a new idea, let alone a character worthy of his own book.

I think the main thing this book seems to be missing though is fun. A title like Superman & Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves doesn’t exactly evoke images of serious supernatural fiction of the past. It more makes me think of silly B-movie schlock. But no, this seems to be an attempt to bring the Marv Wolfman-style horror of the seventies back, but with superheroes. And it just doesn’t work.

I wanted to like this book, but it just needed to have more there. But if you are the kind of reader who just loves vampire fiction and superheroes, maybe you will find something to love. As for me, it’s Not Recommended.

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