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The Walking Undead (Vampire State Building #1 Review)


Writers: Ange & Patrick Renault

Artist: Charlie Adlard

Colorist: Sebastien Gerard

Designer: Rodolfo Muraguchi 

Publisher: Ablaze Publishing 

Rating: 8/10

DISCLAIMER: Vampire State Building contains moderate violence and themes of horror which some readers may find disturbing. 

The Walking Dead was the series that first drew me in to the world of comics. For me, everything about it is perfection. When Charlie Adlard took over as the artist, the impossible became a reality...I fell in love with TWD universe all over again. With that being said, it’s safe to say I had very high expectations for the debut issue of Vampire State Building (or for the artwork at the very least). 

This debut issue effectively introduced the core concept of the series. Terry, the key protagonist, is leaving New York to become an army mechanic. To say farewell, his friends have organised a trip to The Empire State Building to show Terry the sun setting over the Big Apple one last time. In true Stephen King fashion, writers Ange and Renault leave us feeling comfortable, letting our guards down for this heart-warming portrayal of friendship.

Cut to a pair of builders on a different floor, who are discussing a bizarre secret room they’ve encountered with an enclosed compartment, which is built into one of the building’s support pillars. Previously sealed with a solid iron door, the entrance has been smashed open, seeming to foreshadow that at least a few of the vampires escaped from this location.

Suddenly, we’re jolted back into reality as a clawed hand bursts through the ceiling, the builders gawping up in terror. Cut to the streets of New York – vampires disguised as homeless men make their way towards the Empire State Building, flocking to join the attack. Inside, the situation has quickly escalated, with vampire creatures brutally taking down tourists with great speed. 

This triggers one of my favourite aspects of the narrative – the mass confusion over what is actually going on. Many people start presuming cannibals are after them as they attempt to flee to safety, whilst the police jump to the conclusion that the landmark is being targeted by terrorists, sealing the building and trapping everyone inside with the monsters. If Die Hard and The Walking Dead had a demonic baby, the result would be Vampire State Building. 

The issue ends with Terry and friends being ushered to safety by another survivor. However, the group end up having to barricade themselves inside a room with other survivors, effectively trapped and surrounded by vampires. 

For the most part I really loved this, although much of the series’ concept is left to be revealed in further issues. Gerard’s colouring accentuates the writing (and Adlard’s gorgeous inking) taking the reader through an emotive journey that parallels the narrative, as his palette gradually transitions from warm orange tones to icy hues. 

For a horror to work, I need either menacing visuals or killer dialogue, and in places the dialogue was a bit clunky. I’m not sure which of the two writers was responsible, but there were just some points where the things people were saying seemed a bit out of place or too long, especially when these characters are in a state of panic and chaos. However, for the most part, this didn’t bother me, as I was more interested in knowing more about the fast-paced plot.

Adlard’s vampires are the only type of blood-suckers I want to read about. The hoard of talon-bearing, red-eyed vampires possess a number of ominous visuals that create a sense of dread throughout. These creatures are actually scary in appearance; these creatures are worthy of the tourists’ reactions. The dialogue of the vampires is the best use of dialogue in the issue, speaking in an other-worldly fashion that sparks memories of the Vampire Lords in Skyrim. The contrast in speech helps to serves as a reminder that, whatever they were in the past, the vampires are their own species. 

One thing that is nagging away at me is the absence of any female vampiric creature. I’m just a bit confused...what happened to the all the gals? On one hand, if these vampires come from an Ancient time, they could hold sexist morals, meaning the females are at safety while the men go to war, so to speak. If the majority of vampires are turned and not original, maybe they would opt to choose men due to these outdated morals and opinions? OR maybe, simply, I’ll spot some female vampires in the next issue and my qualm will be rendered mute. Either way, I’m curious.

The hunt continues on October 23rd.


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