The third issue of Dark Horse Comics‘ adaptation of Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s trilogy of vampire novels The Strain dropped this week. While some here at Comic Booked have mixed-feelings about the the novel itself (I’m lookin’ at you Emmet), I am pleased to report that this same material in the able hands of Eisner Award winning writer David Lapham (Silverfish, Stray Bullets, Young Liars, and SO many other EXCELLENT comics, including a new werewolf series titled Ferals), and artist Mike Huddleston (Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker), is working out quite well as a comic. If you have missed the start of this series, check out our preview from the first issue of The Strain right here on Comic Booked.
As you can see from the preview, the series kicked off with a not completely necessary Romanian back-story, before settling into the main plot of a mysterious, incommunicado passenger plane arriving on the tarmac of a metropolitan airport. The plane turns out to have been the scene of horrific events, as well as having transported a deadly cargo. Thinking that this could be the start of some type of infectious epidemic, the CDC is called in. Three passengers managed to survive, but the situation immediately starts to go sideways and spread when dead bodies start turning up. The comics are doing a nice job of keeping the plot of the novel intact for the most part, while at the same time telling the story in the manner unique to the comics.
Here in The Strain #3, things really start jumping off. Be that as it may, readers who have failed to read the two previous issues may find themselves a little lost, as multiple storylines are in full swing. Should a seemingly crazy old man’s warning to investigators be taken seriously? Is a rock star’s strange recent changes and outrageous actions the result of some sickness?
Is the murder of an airport worker somehow related to events that seem on the verge of spiraling out of control?
Will science be able to unravel the mystery of what’s going on, or will it just lead to a dead end?
What about a young girl who managed to survive whatever tragedy unfolded on that cursed flight?
By the end of this issue things will begin to emerge from the shadows and start happening in a very public way. It becomes clear that all of these isolated events are only the beginning of what’s to come. This title is coming out with solid regularity, so if you are interested in following the story now is the time to act. But is it worth it?
I would say that The Strain is indeed worth reading. As expected, David Lapham does a nice job of holding the reins and telling the tale in the limited amount of space afforded by a comic, as opposed to a prose novel. With so much going on in the plot, this issue does tend to fragment somewhat, but is still fun to read if you have been following along. The main characters are developing nicely and I look forward to getting to know them better in future issues.
I think that Mike Huddleston’s art is holding up pretty well in this series, but more so in the darker moody illustrations, and the panels with backgrounds. A few pieces of his work really stand out in this issue and work very well. The vampires in The Strain are biologically different from traditional vampires, and this difference has big artistic potential that I hope is exploited to full advantage as they start to play a larger role in the series. The last quarter of this issue starts to have the majority of the panels lacking any background illustration at all, and I would definitely prefer to see less of that.
I would say that The Strain is coming along nicely and worth reading. I have been eagerly awaiting this series since I first reported about it here after the SDCC announcement, so I have been picking up each issue since they debuted; but like I stated above, new readers might be lost if they try to hop in now without picking up the previous issues. If this sounds and looks like a series that might appeal to you, hop on The Strain train and come along for the ride.