Graveyard Shift is the story of a homicide detective who, along with his three teammates, unknowingly uncovered a group of vampires and upset the apple cart. Liam manages to survive an attempt to end his life, but his wife Hope doesn’t fare so well and ends up in a grave. After his brief coma, Liam makes his way to visit his wife’s grave but instead is met with a surprise: his dead wife. Although she did “die” during the attack in their apartment, she is very much up and about…and very, very hungry; ravenous, actually. Most people wouldn’t stand a chance against a new vampire just risen and as feral as a rabid animal, but Liam is not most people, as he makes obvious right up front. He’s a smart one, and despite being surrounded by other vampires in the graveyard (one of them is controlling Hope’s actions) Liam manages to get Hope away from them and talks her down from her nocturnal frenzy.
Once things calm down, the two make their way to a hotel, since the vampires destroyed their apartment, but in no time the hunger starts to consume poor Hope. It’s only a matter of time before she needs to feed on human blood and she’ll only be able to hold off the urges for so long before the instincts kick in and she loses her humanity for a period of time. Liam hopes to find her food in time for that to be avoided, but he fails and her dark nature takes over. Whoever’s on the receiving end of her actions won’t have much to say about it afterward, be sure of that.
The mixed-species couple want to find a way to fix their situation and in doing so they quickly realize they make a darn good investigative team; something to keep in mind should they make it to a sunny side of an ending. Through looking for the head of the vampire coven, one who commanded Hope to kill Liam soon after she turned, they learn that there is a way to reverse the curse (no poetry intended) and their quest for a cure to the vampirism begins. Before that can happen, there needs to be a big blow out with that big cheese blood sucker. And don’t worry, there is.
The story is interesting enough to keep one from thinking sarcastically, “oh boy, another vampire story” and that’s a credit to veteran comic scribe Jay Faerber’s ability to pace a story tightly and load it with strong dialogue. The concept of a married couple where half is a new vampire makes for an different dynamic and he is quite effective and making you want to two main characters to come out on top. The way he ends this arc leaves things to go in a number of directions so count this reader in as curious to what comes next.
The real hero of the book is the artwork by Fran Bueno, with his use of thick lines in the foreground and thin lines in the back, giving a nice dimensional feel to the panels. He loads his work with so much detail that it would be almost criminal to just glaze over it, which includes his style of coloring, and he’s great at pulling the eye to a certain focal point. Low lighting conditions lend themselves to some great shadow details too, adding incredible mood to moments that need it.
Originally printed as a four-issue series of the same name, this collected volume delivers the first arc along with sketches and concept by Fran Bueno for a little bit of extra goodness, if that sort of thing tickles your fancy. If you can’t stand vampire tales, you’ll probably want to steer clear. But as far as a good monster tale goes, with some fantastic artwork, you can’t go wrong with this one. Solid entertainment.