cover image The Vain

The Vain

Eliot Rahal and Emily Pearson. Oni, $19.99 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-62010-887-1

Despite sporting a bevy of sexy vampires, this historical horror fantasy has trouble hooking into a meaty enough story behind the bloodsucking. The narrative follows a group of attractive undead criminals from the 1930s to the present, a promising concept that feels rushed into a single volume. The Blood Bandits’ escapades include robbing blood banks, conducting espionage in WWII, tangling with gangsters in revolution-era Cuba, and starting a blood cult in 1970s California. The mix of globe-trotting adventure and supernatural horror is enticing, and the book periodically revels in cocky absurdity with dialogue like, “We’re vampires. And we want to kill some Nazis.” But the action moves too quickly to establish characters, motivations, or a plot arc. The thin thread of an overarching narrative is provided by a government agent who glimpses the vampires at work and becomes obsessed with exposing them. The vamps themselves have sketched-in personalities, and amid the choppy, breakneck action they never come into focus. Pearson has drawn attractive art for comics like The Wilds, but the blocky, thickly lined figures and sketched-in backgrounds here don’t match that standard. The story unrolls rather than builds, creating the impression that, like its ageless antiheroes, it’s just marking time between bloodbaths. (Apr.)