Independent comics never had the stigma attached to them that self-published books do. Cerebus. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez’s Love & Rockets. Wendi and Richard Pini’s Elfquest. Brian Michael Bendis’ Jinx. Some great books/talent got their start in indy comics. So I had no hesitation in reading Immortal Kiss from Graphic Illusions Studios (a five page preview is available online).
“Detectives Ilya Romanov and Sonia Flores are called in to investigate a grisly murder outside of a trendy nightclub, The Nocturne. It’s a race against time to stop the killer from striking next. Romanov and Flores soon discover that the Nocture’s mysterious owners, Mikhail and Arya Vladimir may hold a missing piece to the puzzle. Immortal Kiss has been a work in progress that took 9 years to bring to press.”
However, I have to admit, I’m not much of a vampire guy. Too often the stories fall into either Anne Rice (think: Interview with a Vampire, Goth/emo vampires) or the role-playing game (think: VampyreKindred: the Embraced television series or, worse, the movie Underworld) territory. Immortal Kiss was definitely in the latter category. We get a story that covers two warring clans of vampires in the city of Chicago and two cops who get caught in their shenanigans.
The dialogue was a little stilted (and somewhat clichéd in spots) and the characters were a little too stock. The art layouts were reminiscent of Bryan Hitch’s Authority run, which is probably why I kept longing for either a more cinematic style or more action to fill out the panels.
There is an eternal lure to the vampire tales. Bram Stoker created Dracula to be the perfect anti-Christ character. This rich and dynamic lore is the prototypical case of the negation of the sacred creating the evil. This fact also explains why the sacred becomes a part of the solution to the problem of vampires. Vampires represent a resurrection to darkness. In vampires you see the perversion of the idea of blood being necessary for eternal life. Resurrection into this life occurs after three days. In the novel, Dracula even comes with his own forerunner (a John the Baptist type) in the form of Renfield. The evil of vampires is dealt with by images of the cross, baptism (holy water), or the sun’s (Son’s) light.
Too often the story-telling in Immortal Kiss seemed disjointed, like it was one good polish away from nailing a scene. But the creators do try to give you your money’s worth in trying to cram a lot of story into the pages:
-internal vampire family politics
-tangled love affairs
-savage murder mystery
But they lack the ability to tie it all together smoothly. That said, the series has potential – it may just need time to find itself and for the writer to get comfortable with the characters before expanding into new territory.