It’s been a year coming, but we finally get to learn how Andrew Bennett became the powerful vampire he is today. In 1591, the book opens in rainy rural England. The tale is narrated in the form of a letter Andrew is writing to his mother and it is quickly established that Andrew is nobility or at least very upper class and that he is fleeing after his father cast out his true love, Mary, who is later explained to have been a lowly maid in the Bennett household. Tragedy strikes when Andrew’s carriage overturns, pinning him to the ground, while his driver is impaled on a broken wagon wheel. Andrew is approached by a mysterious stranger, who, to regular readers, is immediately identifiable as a vampire. It’s actually Cain the powerful first vampire. He blatantly states that he plans to feast on Andrew, but whether he is stalling or not, Andrew manages to get him talking. First he asks Cain to help him to get free and to his feet so he can face death like a gentleman. He then asks what manner of creature he is and Cain retells his story. Though it’s already been revealed, there is the added layer of his love for his female sire and his pain at her loss and those of his other “children” at the hands of Etrigan. He also delves into his curse and Andrew ends up playing a role in that as well.
Cain then gets tired of talking and turns into a giant wolf. Andrew flees, but of course he has no hope. But rather than dying, Cain’s curse kicks into effect and Andrew of course becomes a vampire. For several pages, the new Andrew struggles with his new transformation, in particular, his new bloodlust. Realizing what he’s become, he knows he and Mary cannot be together. So he writes another letter, this time to her and tells her to move on. (We do not see her transformation. Guess that’s a story for another volume.)
By this point, we’ve seen the story of becoming a vampire told a million different ways, but even so this story still managed to be interesting and engaging. The artwork by Andrea Sorrentino is always amazing on this book, but this was among the best of the best. On the first page, there’s an image of Andrew peering out a rainy window that captures the character’s innocence, which is not yet lost. The rain effects in general are excellently rendered, heavier during more dramatic or action-packed times and subsiding in slower moments. Cain’s origin is rendered in an etching style, which is pretty stunning. Like I said, Sorrentino’s work is always amazing, but this goes above and beyond.
I’ve always had a little bit of problem with the romantic angle in this book, because I just didn’t get it, so Joshua Hale Fialkov actually helps turn that around by delving into its beginnings. It’s still not fully fleshed out but at least now I get it, somewhat.
This issue is really necessary for this series. These were all things the reader needed to know in order to fully appreciate the overall title. So this was anything but a throwaway fill-in issue!
I, VAMPIRE #0
Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art by Andrea Sorrentino
Cover by Clayton Crain