• The Strain: The Fall, Volume 3 TPB

    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: February 5, 2014

    The latest collection in this series gathers issues #1 - #4 as well as a Dark Horse Presents single story.

    The story in these issues take up the second book of the series, The Fall, with the events occurring immediately after the end of the first book, The Strain. After finally getting The Master out into open sunlight which failed to destroy him now Professor Setrakian and his small group must look to other means of eliminating him. The key, it seems, is held in an ancient tome called the Occido Lumen which has just recently gone up for auction at Sotheby’s - for $25 million dollars.

    Eph is trying to maintain his relationship with his teenage son, Zak, in light of his mother’s turning/hunting of him now. He’s also convinced that Eldritch Palmer is the key to the Master’s ongoing plans and begins preparing to take him out. Nora, his fellow-scientist and team-member, is concerned for Eph’s safety and Zak’s well-being. Fet, the large-framed exterminator, gets more details on history of the Lumen from the professor. It’s a text in an almost-unknown language, bound in silver so its contents are unknown to vampire-kind.

    Meanwhile, the wealthy industrialist Palmer has a frustrating meeting with The Master’s second-in-command, Eichhorst. Palmer, in ailing health, wants his reward now but Eichhorst puts him off, focusing their efforts instead on Setrakian’s band of survivors. In another creepy meeting, the gangbanger Gus is brought before the other Old Ones, ancient vampires like The Master. They do not, however, share in his view of the world and want to be rid of him as well. So they enlist Gus’ help as their daywalking-aide, asking him to find the professor and help him with bringing about The Master’s demise. They give Gus his recently-turned mother as a reward and token of their promise.

    So Gus and the mysterious vampire Mr. Quinlan set out on a recruitment drive, snagging Creem and his gang, The Sapphires, to join in their fight. After a brutal display of Quinlan’s particular offensive capabilities against vampires, they quickly come on board with Gus’ proposal. All together, then, they set out for the professor’s pawnshop. Fet and Eph head down to where they’d previously found The Master’s coffin, only to find that it’s been removed. They soon discover, though, that these new vampires have their own infrared marking codes for passage routes.

    On their way home Fet and Eph have to try and elude the authorities but are quickly face-to-face with Eph’s old boss, Barnes, whose complicity in The Master’s plan is plainly evident to Eph. Barnes’ goal is to capture Eph but he’s not having any of it. He and Fet escape into an old bar’s trapdoor, finding some vampires trying to escape. They find that the vampires - while unable to cross over bodies of water - have found they can use the subterranean subways just fine.

    We’re then introduced to the Master’s “feelers,” children blinded by the recent occultation of the moon (part of his arrival in NYC) who become undead extrasensory beings to go out into the city and “see” for The Master. The Master, for his part, commands one of the first turned survivors, the rocker Bolivar, to find Eph and, specifically, his son, Zak and to bring him back to him directly.

    Eph and Fet get back to Setrakian’s pawnshop, with Nora’s senile mother in-tow. The story then shifts to introducing Angel, the aging former luchadore and his discovery of the vampires in his apartment building. He manages to dispatch them but ends up escaping his building, running into Gus and the gang, who allow him to join their team. Meanwhile, Setrakian and Fet travel to Sotheby’s to try and get a look at the Lumen. On the way, the professor relates a story where he used a fake version to track down Dreverhaven, a former Treblinka doctor who was especially sadistic and cruel, even for a Nazi. Setrakian found him in the 70s and was able to dispatch him, allowing some cathartic release for the professor on one of his former tormentors.

    Setrakian bonds some with Zak, giving the confused boy a silver-bladed pocketknife. He also gives Fet an enormous bomb to seal off the subway tunnel - which he manages to just do in time. Across town, Gus and company finally fight their way to the pawnshop, only to find it abandoned save for Fet’s business card and a boobytrap that explodes, taking many vampires with it. Meanwhile, Eph gets Zak, Nora and her mom to the train station so that they can hopefully escape town. This allows Eph to go on his suicide mission, intent as he is on eliminating Palmer…

    The DHP one-shot included here is both written and drawn by David Lapham and concentrates on the Angle, the aging luchadore once known as the “Silver Angel.” He’s having some issues dealing with this new reality and thinks back to his employers, the Guptas, and their troubled young daughter, Annika. Previously, Angel and Annika had bonded some but none more so than when he saved her from some bad decisions one night. At this point, though, Angel knows the entire family is turned/trapped so he does the only thing he can to put his mind at ease - he puts on his old mask and signature knuckledusters of silver crosses and gets to work.

    This story comes with little in the way of spoken dialog but the narrative utilized speaks volumes, seeking out the emotional core of the survivors and what was lost thanks to The Master’s plan. It’s also great exposition for Angel, defining not just his motivations in joining Gus but, also, his capabilities that are unknown to everyone except Mr. Quinlan.

    A faithful rendition of the original series, this edition of The Strain story moves along quite quickly and easily, allowing new readers to drop in and not feel lost at all. Lapham’s script captures just the right amount of elements and his artwork with co-artist Mike Huddleston is excellently suited the dark and violent atmosphere.