Eve: Vampire Diva #2-3 (ADVANCE)


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Eve: Vampire Diva #2-3 (ADVANCE)


  • Words: Frank J. LaPerch
  • Art: Ash Jackson
  • Inks: Ash Jackson
  • Colors: Ash Jackson
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Arcana Studio
  • Price: $3.95 each
  • Release Date: Jan 30, 2008

The advance review for Eve: Vampire Diva #1 here at BF was one wholly unimpressed with the Arcana Studios’ mini’s opening chapter.  Judgment was passed based on three perceived weaknesses: 1) an entirely derivative backdrop of vampires vs. werewolves, led by a kick-ass take-names female protagonist a la Underworld, Bloodrayne, Buffy, etc. (too many to name); 2) an unattractive and arguably unpolished palate of pages by artist Ash Jackson ; 3) too many plot threads set in motion for any single, four-issue mini to adequately cover.  Looking back, at the same first issue, I understand the arguments, and from that issue alone, can’t claim criticisms #1 or #3 false (although I’ll stormily disagree with supposed weakness #2).  Now having read issues two and three, however, I’m ready to take aim at the entire trinity of complaints and aver them all outdated.

The series follows aging pop-icon Evelyn Murphy, a once-favored music star, now turned infamous thanks to nocturnal shenanigans as a vampiric hunter of the supernatural.  In order to cover for her constant, inexplicable disappearances, Eve’s overweight, oil-slick manager signs her up for reality shows, orchestrates rumor leaks to the media about fictional problems with drug addiction, rehab, and other gossip-worthy trends, tries to keep her career a-chuggin’ if only at the expense of her ever-dimming reputation.  Through it all, a council of supernatural big-shots struggle to keep the balance between the dark and the light, and Eve looks to be a primary pawn in their latest game against Machiavellian enemies.

So, yes: Eve: Vampire Diva is derivative, or, at least, it’s cast in the mold of all number of \\"\\" occult, gothic action-adventures of recent memory.  It doesn’t limit itself to any singular source, however.  There is, at its core, a vampires-hate-werewolves factor akin to Underworld , but there’s also a heavy witch and warlock element, as well as the concept of a “balance” that must be kept at all costs by a council via streetwise field agents (reminiscent of the Russian Nightwatch trilogy), an ill-fated love story (flavors of Blood and Chocolate) and, last but certainly not least, comedic elements lampooning celebrity culture in the manner of To Die For and The Devil Wears Prada .  With so many aspects, all culled from differing and no single, absolute source, it would be unfair to claim the story holds no soul of its own.  The components are familiar, but the final form is not a carbon copy of some other; it’s a unique original, however steeped in genre stereotypes at its surface.

Writer Frank LaPerch does a commendable job at keeping the story multi-layered, complicated by an extensive supporting cast and a hefty dose of secondary subplots concerning both the diva and the darker side of Eve’s dual careers.  The comedy is geared toward a young adult readership, and will likely fall flat for those beyond their early teens.  By-and-large, the jokes are pure banter, which is the one and only minus of the book; the comedy takes the place of more sincere dramatic build-up, and unfortunately doesn’t prove clever enough to pass as uproarious nor poignant enough to contribute to the story at large.  I’d prefer to see an Eve that holds greater concern for its emotional and dramatic qualities, but perhaps I’m not the proper demographic to stand and demand.  Either way, it’s a literally juvenile and not altogether refined sense of humor that worms its way through Eve: Vampire Diva \\'s pages.  Be warned.

Beyond that, Eve turns surprising, with a highly intricate conflict involving a deluge of characters and seemingly unrelated side-stories.  Most particularly, there’s a love story, a romance that’s anything but ordinary, a pairing of would-be enemies (Eve and an honorable, reluctant werewolf) that can’t quite find the reason to actually be enemies.  The nuance of this oddly inverse Romeo-and-Juliet scenario is that our supposedly moral, good-willed heroine persists in trying to kill the werewolf (and indeed, even succeeds in killing him, once, in her distant past!), even though said werebeastie never showed nor shows signs of being dangerous to anyone.  The sheer remarkableness of granting a lead character in a heroic fiction piece an ethical failing of bigotry, and then to embroider that taboo straight into the story’s romance, is frankly astounding.  It’s the sole note of dramatic density that marks Eve as definitively above-average.

There’re stories that tread lightly upon such ground, but Eve: VD  keeps Eve unremittingly bloodthirsty, disregarding the advice and concerns of nearly every other supporting cast member, villain and ally alike.  Eve’s guilt at having slaughtered the werewolf in the past, even after it proved itself a possible friend, doesn’t stop her from trying to kill said werewolf again and again.  Constant guilt + outmoded prejudice = burgeoning romance is far more complex an equation than normally seen inside comics, especially comics as otherwise frivolous free-for-all as Eve: Vampire Diva .  But the sophistication is there, as are the above mentioned complexities of plot which the past BF review of issue #1 considered a negative.  But having combed through issues 2 and 3, all threads look to dovetail into one single, coherent whole by the end of the fourth and final issue, so this will, no question, be a satisfactorily stand-alone mini.


Now how about that art by Ash Jackson?  The man’s style is very stylized, but really, are we still living in a culture where expressionistic art has to be justified inside genre-specific comic books?  In a world where global entertainment culture consists of cartoons, anime, manga, and movies (dating as far back as The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari!) all bearing extreme caricatures of reality and yet are constantly, gleefully consumed, it’s ridiculous to claim a lack of realism or representationalism as proof of a lack of professional quality and skill.  Jackson blends over-the-top dynamism with a high level of detail, the disjoint proportions of J. Scott Campbell with the amorphous facial appearances of Todd MacFarlane, all by way of liquid, oddly angular lines a la Phil Hester or Scott McDaniel.  It’s as far from realism as Norm Rockwell is from Edward Munch, but there’s nothing inconsistent in Jackson’s layouts, perspective, or strokes, and therefore must be claimed skillful and considered, matters of personal opinion aside.

There’s no artist living that appeals to all comers, but Jackson’s particular panache should find a happy home inside the eyes of those who enjoy Gennedy Tartakovsky, Doug Tenapel, or any of the previously listed, comparable comic book artists.  Jackson’s style is his own, through-and-through, whatever similarities made be pointed to; furthermore, it frankly fits with  Eve’s blend of snarky wit and overblown genre surplus.

The second opinion?  Eve: Vampire Diva will primarily appeal to a younger crowd, due to its sense of humor and take on its subject matter, both the goth and the glam, though it nevertheless can be said to be a fine-tuned performance.  The story is well constructed, denser than one would expect, the art whimsical, detailed, and fitting, the mini-series looking to wrap up splendidly with the advent of the next and last ish (#4).  All around a comic worth buying, worth reading, if such qualities as I’ve listed tempt, though if they don’t, well…don’t.  It’s a charming book, and readers will get their money’s worth per issue.  Beyond that?  It’s a comic steeped in a particular genre fare and it’s not one that takes itself too seriously.  If that sounds up your alley, you won’t go wrong with E: VD.

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