• The Strain: The Fall #8

    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Release on: February 19, 2014

    For the final story in the second segment of The Strain Trilogy (the Night Eternal starts in the next issue, apparently), many pieces get moved around and not in the best directions for the characters impacted.

    Nora, trying to save both her senile mother and Eph’s young son, Zak, decides to leave Zak in a hiding spot while she stashes her mother in a safe spot elsewhere in the subway. Zak, nervously hitting his asthma meds and armed with a decent knife from Nora, decides she’s been too long and sets out on his own.

    Across town, the rich & powerful “Renfield” of the story, Eldritch Palmer, has clearly been shaken by Eph’s accusations toward The Master and now Palmer wants to demand what’s been promised him. He cut off the funding of their attempt to acquire the Occido Lumen as a way of making his stand - so now The Master and Eichhorst are at one of Palmer’s many nuclear plants, all meeting together. Palmer is clearly upset and demands to be made immortal. The Master agrees, only to tear his head off his shoulders once he learns that all other plans are in place…

    Meanwhile, in their boat on the Hudson, the rest of the vampire slayers listen to the last news reports they can get - and the news isn’t good. They hear of a nuclear plant meltdown in China, widespread chaos across the U.S. and, more locally, the derailment of the train that Eph had put his loved ones aboard. This proves too much for Eph who has Vasily drop him off so he can go after them. During this, though, the professor is digging through the Occido Lumen as quickly as possible, knowing that they don’t have much time. But listening to the radio reports and deciphering some of what’s in that ancient tome, a realization finally dawns: The book is mainly a collection of maps, maps that show the locations of the remains of the ancients. He curses himself for not having realized this sooner, that Palmer’s power plants have been constructed on these locations specifically to go into meltdown, to literally destroy the earth housing the physical remains of the other ancients. The Master is killing all of them right where they live.

    Nora, having stowed her mother away in a locked room off an abandoned subway tunnel, returns to find Zak missing from where she left him. She’s soon in a showdown with Zak’s turned-mother, Kelly, and they fight some before more minions show up and Nora’s in a fight for her own life. Zak, elsewhere in the tunnels, cries out for his dad to help him but is not answered. Instead, he’s attacked and soon Zak recognizes Kelly and she carries him away. Eph finally arrives, only to find Nora protecting her mother and Zak long gone…

    David Lapham manages to balance all the many story elements here quite well, without it ever getting overwhelming or feeling forced. Each story carries its own emotional weight and, here, every story packs a serious whallop. Mike Huddleston’s artwork is again excellent, getting to finally draw in more of The Master and scenes with many of the main characters finally all together. This continues to be a stellar adaptation of the book series and well worth checking out.