Writer: James Tynion IV & Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Otto Schmidt
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: July 12th, 2022
Vampires rule! Or at least they want to in DC vs. Vampires Coffin Edition #1, as Andrew Bennett (AKA “I, Vampire”) staggers to The Hall of Justice, warning them that a new leader has taken over the Cult of the Blood Red Moon, and this new boss wants vampires to once again rule the world. The first three issues of the mini-series are collected here, and since this is an Elseworlds story, no one is safe, and there are tons of twists and surprises within.
If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the DC vs. Vampires Coffin Edition #1 Review.
DC vs. Vampires Coffin Edition #1 quickly introduces us to the grave (no pun intended) situation that the DC heroes and villains will be facing. The alternate Earth of this tale is quite a mixed bag.
During the course of the book, we get to see all of the “big name” DC heroes, most of whom seem younger and closer to their Silver Age versions, save for Batman, who ALWAYS seems older. On this Earth, as with Earth-1, Dick Grayson has become Nightwing, Damian is Robin and the Red Hood exists. We get obscure DC characters also, like Andrew Bennett, the villain Everyman, Cheshire, and even the Wonder Twins (Zan and Jayna).
Unfortunately, Bennett’s warning is already too late, as one of the Justice League members (hint: they’re one of the more powerful members of the team) has already been turned into a vampire, and they follow instructions from the new Vampire Lord/Lady, who instructs them to either kill those heroes who are dangerous or aren’t useful to the cause, or convert the “valuable” heroes to vampires.
Meanwhile, the Legion of Doom has also been infiltrated, with some of the villains there being killed, and other villains (like Gorilla Grodd!) being turned into vampires.
The kills in this book are graphic and brutal. There are no off-panel deaths or clean neck breaks. In one scene, a character gets their spine ripped out through their throat. It’s hard-R rated violence and it really raises the atmosphere of terror and malevolence throughout the book.
Only three heroes know what’s really going on: Batman, Green Arrow, and Black Canary, but they slowly share the secret with others. Batman is his usual efficient analytical self, keeping the secret vampire war to his “family” (Alfred, Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood, Damian, and Cassandra Cain), and runs them all through three tests to ensure they haven’t been turned. He arms the Bat family and himself with deadly weapons, and they go out to annihilate any vampire they find.
I’m not a fan of Batman, but he fits into this story (and this Earth) like a tailored glove. Though I feel DC has gone beyond a saturation point with all the Bat-books, it’s good to see him here. He’s the Jonathan Harker of this tale, studying vampires and devising ways to kill them. He’s okay with killing the vampires for the simple fact that they’re already dead. Though we don’t get to see him in action against vampires here, it sets up some epic confrontations to come.
Green Arrow and Black Canary are the antitheses of Batman. They’re not sitting in a lab doing analysis, they’re traveling the surrounding cities and warning any hero or villain they can find about the vampire war. Also, where Batman still has his Batcave and mansion, Green Arrow and Black Canary (along with Roy Harper) have had to hole up in an abandoned and boarded-up truck stop diner in the middle of nowhere.
Green Arrow seems to have an internal radar for identifying vampires, and he uses it to take down a vampire in one hilarious scene where he confronts four baffled low-tier villains.
Black Canary isn’t as adept at identifying vampires, and in one fun scene runs into Damien. Both think the other person may be a vampire, and they have a knock-down-drag-out fight, with Black Canary finally getting the proof she needs that Damien’s still human.
On this Earth, Ollie and Dinah are still a couple, and the scene with them together is great, with the two lovingly chiding each other and formulating their own plan for stopping the vampire war. I hope nothing happens to either of the two, but with the “Walking Dead” style of the book, where anything can happen, I wonder if they’ll survive this tale.
I won’t divulge the crazy twists that happen during the story, but suffice it to say this is a far better story than I thought it would be. It feels like a Bronze age story that someone like E. Nelson Bridwell or Cary Bates would have written, with the violence and gore ratcheted up to 10.
Otto Schmidt’s art on DC vs. Vampires Coffin Edition #1 is reminiscent of such artists as Darwyn Cooke and Evan “Doc” Shaner, it’s simple and a little sketchy, but still detailed enough that the terror of the vampires comes through.
In violent scenes, he colors the panels red. It reminded me of the scene in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill”, where the film switches to black and white when it gets super violent. It’s a great way to make the distinction between the brutal world of the vampires and the normal world of humanity.
DC vs. Vampires Coffin Edition #1 is a great introduction to the DC vs. Vampires world and a good value. The three issues provided here set up the story and all the main characters move the plot along and ends with a fantastic cliffhanger. If you haven’t gotten totally burned out on Batman, or if you love good vampire stories, check it out, you won’t regret it.