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Review: The Strain Issue #1 by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan

Title: The Strain Issue #1

Creator/Writer: Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan, David Lapham

Artist: Mike Huddleston

Colorist: Dan Jackson

Genre: Horror

Series: The Strain Trilogy

Publication Date: December 14, 2011

Format: Illustration, 32 Pages

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Synopsis:

When a Boeing 777 lands at JFK International Airport and goes dark on the runway, the Center for Disease Control, fearing a terrorist attack, calls in Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his team of expert biological-threat first responders. Only an elderly pawnbroker from Spanish Harlem suspects a darker purpose behind the event-an ancient threat intent on covering mankind in darkness.

Quick & Dirty: This horror filled encounter is more than just the biological attack, it’s far more dark and dangerous they believe.

Opening Sentence: Once upon a time… there was a giant.

The Review:

I applaud this recent trend of re-imagining a popular novel and expressing it through the graphic novel format.  It not only offers a visual representation of beloved characters for established fans, but also provides an easy and convenient look into a book that someone might not have read before.  Personally, I have yet to read The Strain Trilogy though I have been eyeballing it for a while now.  This first issue is said to follow the first book in the series, The Strain, closely.  It definitely pulls nightmares and terrors out of the dark corners of our minds and onto paper.

The story starts with a flashback to Romania and a little boy named Abraham.  His Bubbeh, his grandmother, tells him a story over dinner about a giant named Jusef Sardu.  Born into a polish nobleman’s family, Jusef was good and kind but freakishly tall.  He had a beautifully crafted wolf head cane that he used in order to get around.  His father’s decision to go on a journey in order to find a cure for his son’s condition costs him and his party their lives.  The sole survivor was Jusef, but he was greatly changed by the event.  No longer the kind and loving giant, he is now only spoke of in hushed tones by candlelight and used as a warning to disobedient children.

The story now cuts to the present day and a father and son playing a violent video game.  Though this gives the appearance of normalcy, it also looms like the calm before the storm.  Dr. Ephraim Goodweather is a workaholic and is part of the CDC’s rapid response team.  They are called to JFK in order to establish if an attack on an airplane is the work of bio-terrorism or not.  We don’t know what is going on but it looks like an old man with a familiar wolf head cane watching what happing on the news, has a pretty good idea.

So far, it looks as if this issue is establishing the main characters and the initial catalyst that dominates the full story.  The reader gets the idea that this is the calm before the storm, not just from the narrative, but from the illustrations.  The use of dark and bold coloring give credence to the rising tension along with the conversations the characters have.  I also really enjoyed the lack of color used to express the nighttime scene at the airport.  It gives it a more realistic feel, since colors are viewed so muted and indistinguishable at night.

This issue, in particular, is reminiscent of the television show, Fringe, and their first episode. I doubt very much that there are more similarities between the two, but you never know.  Overall, I think that this is a wonderful start to a fantastic horror story.  Depending on how it all plays out, I may even go and read the book this comic is based off of.

Notable Scene:

The Strain Comic Series:

1. Issue 1: The Strain

2. Issue 2: The Strain

3. Issue 3: The Strain

4. Issue 4: The Strain

5. Issue 5: The Strain

6. Issue 6: The Strain

6. The Strain Volume 1 (Issues 1-6)

7. Issue 7: The Strain

9. Issue 8: The Strain

FTC Advisory: Dark Horse Comics graciously provided me with a copy of The Strain Issue 1No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. The only payment received came in the form of hugs and kisses from my little boys.

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