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A Change in Leadership

July 14, 2010

Second Coming wraps up this week, and we’re already on to the next major X-Men event.  The prologue to that event, Curse of the Mutants, is The Death of Dracula #1.  That’s right, Marvel’s jumping on the vampire bandwagon.  There’s a meeting of all of the vampire sects on some Greek island in the middle of nowhere.  And that includes Dracula’s two sons, Janus and Xarus (because vampires can conceive somehow in the Marvel Universe, though admittedly Janus was created by special means), as well as Dracula, who’s been revived since his last appearance in Captain Britain and MI:13.  Some of the sects disagree with Dracula’s leadership, and the ambitious Xarus uses this opportunity to slay Dracula and rally them around him.  However, both of the most powerful sects, Krieger and Claw, refuse to join him.  Janus and a few others end up becoming the leaders of the opposition, and the leader of Siren Sect, Alyssa, potentially offers her support.  Xarus shows Janus a new bit of tech in the form of necklaces that will allow vampires to walk in the daytime.  At the same time, some of his men use the necklaces to slaughter the leadrship of Krieger Sect.  Janus still isn’t interested.  Alyssa sends a few of her vampires to seduce and kill Xarus, but they fail, and Xarus gets mad at Alyssa.  Janus and the opposition choose to visit Claw Sect to try to sway them, and it seems that Janus once studied under Claw Sect.  Claw Sect agrees to help, and Janus surrounds Xarus back at the island.  However, Claw Sect quickly reveals that they were on Xarus’ side the whole time, and that this was just a plot to root out resistance.  However, Alyssa, who has seemingly joined Xarus, slips Janus one of the necklaces.  The other vampires are executed by burning at sunrise, but Janus survives and uses the confusion to escape.  Nonetheless, Xarus is now lord of the vampires, and Janus is alone and without friends.  And the leader of Moksha Sect, a sect of seers, says that this is all as he has forseen.

Well, I’ll admit, this wasn’t a bad story.  The concept of the sects is interesting, even if it is implemented in a strange way.  I think that fully-operational power structures surrounding certain charismatic and powerful vampires would make more sense than specialized sects, but whatever.  And it is interesting to see Dracula out of the picture and some new blood (haha, vampire pun) in the form of Xarus take control.  Janus is also an interesting narrative focus.  He’s a pre-existing character who has a history of opposing Dracula and of generally not being a normal vampire, much like Alucard of Castlevania fame.  My guess is that he’ll be an ally of the X-Men in their coming confrontation with this new vampire order.  Victor Gischler does a really good job getting us into the intrigues of vampire politics with all of these developments.  I’m confused as to how being reformed from his ashes after the Captain Britain and MI:13 incident makes Dracula look completely different, and I’m not entirely fond of his new design.  But considering that he died pretty quickly (though X-Men solicitations indicate that he will be back soon), that’s not that big a deal for the time being.  And Giuseppe Camuncoli’s artwork is great.  He’s already worked on the X-Men and on mystical stuff before, and his artwork has a very… jagged feel (jagged like fangs), so he’s a great choice.  Some of his designs for the vampire sects are a tad silly, but he’s just working with what he’s been given by Gischler.  My biggest complaint about this isn’t this comic itself, but the general idea of mutants versus vampires.  Vampires are being very overplayed in current popular culture, and Marvel, again, is just hopping on the bandwagon.  It would be nice to see something a tad more original, in my opinion.  Plus, it would be nice to let the X-Men breathe a little after Second Coming.  So I don’t know if I’ll like Curse of the New Mutants and the new X-Men series that’s coming out with it.  But the prologue was pretty dang good, so even if it’s seems silly, I’ll give it a try.

Plot: 8.6      Art: 9.2      Dialogue: 8.7      Overall: 8.6

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