cover image Vassalord, Volume 1

Vassalord, Volume 1

Nanae Chrono, . . Tokyopop, $9.99 (192pp) ISBN 978-1-4278-0614-7

Charley is a cyborg vampire killer (in both senses—he's trying to kill them, and he is one) in thrall to his sybaritic vampire master named Johnny. They have a love-hate relationship: Charley works for the Vatican as a kind of supernatural assassin and only feeds on Johnny; Johnny torments Charley and even seduces him, but seems to be okay with following him around when needed. The figures can be attractive, but the storytelling is severely lacking. What happens can be hard to puzzle out, especially during battles. The result is a confusing mishmash of vampires, homoeroticism, and cross and communion imagery. In many manga stories, vampirism is code for forbidden sex. That's true here, where the appeal rests on the idea of two men sucking on each other even when they say they don't want to. Fans of gothic boys' love stories will be willing to puzzle through for the occasional double entendre or erotic image, while others may draw the line at the use of actual Christian elements, like the Lord 's Prayer, in such a work. (July)