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Undying Love (if you couldn’t tell from the horribly overused pun in the title) is another vampire story. After dozens of vampire stories coming out in not only comics but mainstream movies, many people are tired of seeing blood-suckers everywhere they turn. But Undying Love manages to bring some unique storytelling tactics that make the vampire genre seem fresh yet still has a few kinks that need to be worked out.
The first issue of Undying Love explores the mythos of vampire and Chinese folklore. The protagonist, John Sargent, falls in love with a woman named Mei in Hong Kong. Only problem with Mei is – she’s a vampire. Now John is on a quest to kill the vampire that created her, one of the most powerful vampires in existence.
Undying Love is written with the combined efforts of Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedman. At first glance the story in Undying Love sounds very generic. The usual man fighting to save the love of his life that just so happens to be a deadly vampire. What’s funny about this seemingly generic idea is that a young boy within the comic known as Tong makes fun of the tale for just that reason. He is only one of the many intricate characters that I can see becoming very prominent in the world of vampire lore in future issues when their characters become fully developed. There’s even a talking fox, which was pretty cool, and Mei is capable of some serious carnage that makes me wonder just how deadly she really is and if she can really be trusted. That’s the usual theme in vampire stories. Vampires are thirsting for blood, so can one really change? Her maker Shang-Ji is also mentioned as being the strongest vampire in China, leaving me highly anticipating his appearance and wondering about his personality – ravaging beast or a refined gentlemen with his claws hidden? I am anxious to see the approach Coker and Freedmen will take with Shang-Ji and am looking forward to the next issue of this seemingly generic tale that really has a lot more to offer.
Despite the obviously generic themes, Undying Love‘s mixture of Chinese folklore makes it less of a cliché and more of an original ideology that could lead to many fun romps in the future. Instead of starting with the usual boy meeting the girl and discovering she’s a vampire, the story starts with the characters already having met and the goal very clear: kill the girl’s maker to turn her human. The only glaringly generic thing I could find (other than the premise at a bare-boned facts first glance) was the main character John Sargant. He is your standard ex-soldier so he knows his way around a gun, but he is also your standard lovelorn puppy that will do anything to save his girl. He was not very interesting but in first issues a lot of character development is usually absent, so hopefully in future issues I can find myself enjoying John’s haphazard fighting rather than thinking why I should care if he dies or not. Another problem is the Chinese folklore. Personally, I am not very familiar with the folklore and was sometimes confused when Chinese words were mentioned. Fans of Chinese culture will be very impressed with how it is woven into the story. Hong Kong is drawn very well – it almost makes me want to visit it, if not for the blood-sucking vampires. That would probably put a damper on my sight-seeing.
The art from writer Tomm Coker is not as bad as many would expect from someone taking on the job of both writing and art. He does both jobs fairly well but there was something about the art that was enjoyable when given a chance. Some of the backgrounds may seem neglected but Coker does a great job illustrating the emotions of his characters. A lot of the scenes do feel like there are too many lines and Sargant’s character is often neglected, while Mei is drawn beautifully, especially when covered with blood…
I am anxious to see the approach Coker and Freedmen will take with Shang-Ji and am looking forward to the next issue of this seemingly generic tale that really has a lot more to offer. The art is fairly decent with most of the attention seemingly going to Mei with great results. If Coker could balance these results with the rest of the cast of characters in his art, this issue could feature some very great images. Many of the characters seem very interesting but are not fully developed which is to be expected over such a short time. The first issue has successfully accomplished its job: it has made me anxious to read the next installment to see more of the characters and see how the story pans out – so far it looks like it might be a fun ride.
Overall Score – 8.5/10