It has been established in comics that Batman can beat just about anything. But he's going to have his hands full when he meets DC's new vampires.I, Vampire #5 Cover I, Vampire, the surprise critical hit from DC's September relaunch, is heading toward the confrontation between a vampire army and the superheroes of the DCU. Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov with art by Andrea Sorrentino, the comic is themed as a horror book, as tension builds toward an inevitable superpowered, blood-filled showdown.
But first, the vampires will have to deal with Batman.
The two-issue Batman story that starts in this week's issue #5 serves as a prelude for March's "Rise of the Vampires" crossover between I, Vampire and Justice League Dark. The four-issue crossover begins with Justice League Dark #7, then crosses into I, Vampire #7, then hits Justice League Dark #8 before concluding in I, Vampire #8 in April.
So far, the series has been defining the relationships and powers utilized by the vampires who star in the title. The focus is on two vampires: Andrew, who uses his vampire powers to fight on the side of good, and the woman he loves, Mary, who isn't quite as nice about things.
As the story has established, Mary is building an army of vampires, and they're tired of taking a back seat to superpowered humans, craving control as they fulfill their craving for blood.
Andrew has added to his supporting cast, including vampire hunters John Troughton and a young girl named Tig. But it's his haunting love for his enemy, Mary, that truly drives the emotion of the story.
In issue #4, there were a few surprises, but Andrew's main confrontation came from Constantine, one of the characters who stars in Justice League Dark. As the vampire makes his way to Gotham now, Newsarama talked with Fialkov to find out more about what happens when Batman meets vampires, and what readers can expect from the upcoming crossover.I, Vampire #5 Interior Newsarama: First, Joshua, congratulations on all the accolades for I, Vampire. It seemed like, at the end of the year, it was on every list as "one of the best series of 2011."
Joshua Fialkov: Yeah, it's really rewarding. I've been doing the odd little books I do for a decade or so now, and it feels amazing to have people actually pay attention to them. Between I,Vampire, Echoes, and Last of the Greats, my ego grew at least three sizes. Pity my editors.
Nrama: Issue #4 established that Andrew is different from other vampires in more ways than one. What sets him apart? Is it really just the self-control?
Fialkov: We explore that a bit in the upcoming crossover issue with Justice League Dark, actually. For me, the lesson of that issue is that power corrupts. When Andrew unlocks the powers, so to speak, in the other vampire, he also unlocks the rage and hatred — all of the things seething underneath the surface. The question that the book starts to ask is what's the amount of power it takes to unlock Andrew's dark side?
Nrama: How will the fact that he killed Tig's dad end up affecting Andrew's future?
Fialkov: Well, Tig already hates his guts, so, I'm going to go out on a limb and say the two of them will come to blows sooner rather than later. What I like about Tig as a character is that she's not the typical vampire hunter. She's severely damaged mentally and emotionally, and she's completely unpredictable. I want her to be a human equivalent to Mary.
Nrama: Andrew's off to Gotham now. What was it like writing those issues, and how does that setting in particular work with the story?I, Vampire #5 Interior Fialkov: Well, writing a giant gothic romance in what is essentially the gothic capital of the fictional universe is a helluva lot of fun. The stuff [artist] Andrea [Sorrentino] brings out of the environments is just amazing, and he presents a Gotham like you've never seen before.
Nrama: How was it writing Batman in issue #5 and #6, and what's his role in this story?
Fialkov; Writing Batman is always a treat. He's that rare character in comics where his purpose is so clearly defined, that he almost writes himself.
When the story starts, a train that should be filled with people shows up completely empty, save for the pools of blood all over. Batman's in "red ball" mode, racing to find out which of his villains could've done it, when he meets Andrew for the first time, and then Mary "introduces" her vampires to one of the cornerstone heroes of the DCU.
The idea for me was that once Mary and her crew face Batman, the heroes of the world know that this menace is out there, and suddenly are forced into becoming proactive against them. Plus, if she can face down Batman and win, that doesn't bode well for the rest of the world.
Nrama: The meeting with Batman, and the Constantine meeting in issue #4 are all foreshadowing the crossover you've got planned in March with Justice League Dark. But there are implications in Andrew's comments to Constantine that the usual magic utilized by the Justice League Dark members won't work against Mary and her army. How challenging will this meeting be for the heroes?
Fialkov: Ah, that's the rub. Without spoiling anything, the vampire menace is about to step itself up a notch, whether Mary wants it to or not.
Nrama: How has it been working with Peter Milligan on the crossover?I, Vampire #5 Interior Fialkov: Great. Peter's one of my favorite writers in comics. His run on X-Force and X-Statix is far and away my favorite comic of the '00s. Just getting to bask in his glory is reward enough.
Nrama: What should fans expect from the "Rise of the Vampires" crossover?
Fialkov: You know how after every event they tell you things will 'never be the same?' Well, for once it's actually true. We completely reinvent the book, the relationships between the characters, and the new status quo of our character, coming out the other side of these next few issues as a completely new and different book.
Nrama: In issue #3, we heard a little about how vampires function in the DC Universe Can you explain the idea of how their sire's mortality determines if they are immortal?
Fialkov: For now, what the professor said, that once a vampire becomes old enough they can only die if they choose to let go, is as much detail as we can go into. We explore that more in issue #7, actually.
Nrama: Is it still possible that we'll see a superhero or supervillain turned into a vampire?
Fialkov: I sure hope so.
Nrama: You've said before that each issue shows the vampire world from a different angle. So far, we've seen that in the first four issues. But will it continue through 2012?
Fialkov: We take a slight break from it for issues 7 and 8, but, yeah, I think that's pretty much the feel of the book for as long as I'm on it. The idea is to take the "I" in the title literally. The book is about point of view. So, we get to see our story sliding through the different players' subjective view points. We get to see what they're thinking which gives both an intimate and a false sense of reality. It's immense fun for me.I, Vampire #6 Cover Nrama: How had Andrea Sorrentino's art been an influence as you write the story?
Fialkov: Andrea's strengths have to do with emotion and capturing moments, so, I think the book has evolved into something far more dramatic then it necessarily would have.
Nrama: There's been a lot of talk among fans about the sales numbers for this book, with people afraid it will be canceled. But are their fears unfounded?
Fialkov: Look, the reality is that comics in general are hurting, especially mid-level books like ours. If you want books like I, Vampire, or independent books like my Last of the Greats, to continue, then you need to do three things. First off, stop stealing them. Secondly, if your friends are stealing them, tell them to stop being a jerk and cough up the cash. Finally, you need to be an advocate. Scream as much as possible about the books you love. Got a teenage girl you know who loves Twilight? Then give her your copy of I,Vampire. Know someone who loves Anne Rice novels? There you go.
I don't think people realize just how hard we work not just on making the comics but on trying to get them in people's hands. Even with the, honestly, stellar work that DC does promoting books like ours, it's just not enough. We need fans to realize the precariousness of the situation for all of comics, and help to build us towards something that'll be here in five, 10, 20 years and beyond.
Nrama: Then can you give fans any indication of where this series will be heading later in 2012?
Fialkov: Monument Valley. That's really all I can say. But, it'll be awesome.