"Vampire Hunter D: Message From Mars #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Stranger Comics
Story by Hideyuki Kikuchi
Written by Brandon Easton
Illustrated by Michael Broussard
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on November 16th, 2016
I have fond memories of piling into a car with some friends from high school and driving out to the mall where we'd blow our measly incomes on overpriced DVDs at Suncoast and Media Play. Looking back on it, I cringe at the $27 I'd spend on a single anime DVD with 3-4 episodes on it; however, some of those titles have stuck with me all this time. One example is Vampire Hunter D, which was probably the first anime film I bought. To this day, I can't tell you why I picked it up. A friend probably recommended it. In any case, the adventures of the title character, a half vampire / half human, fighting vampires in a future time have a place in my heart. So, you can imagine my excitement when I heard Stranger Comics was releasing a Vampire Hunter D comic.
The very first page of Vampire Hunter D: Message from Mars instantly transported me back to that time from my youth. Michael Broussard's artwork is spot on to the designs of the character from the original film released in 1985. D looks so damn cool clad all in black with a cloak billowing out behind him and a long, thin sword held confidently in one hand. He's a dashing vampiric musketeer.
|Click images to enlarge|
D is just as calm, cool, and collected as he's always been. It's a nice contrast to Lefty, the parasitic creature living in his left hand who is constantly spewing out sarcastic comments. They make a good pair with D playing the straight man to Lefty's funny man. Despite the hand's criticism, the two work well together. Plus, it's a pretty creepy shot to see a dude eat a tentacle through his hand like it's nothing.
The action does not disappoint either, capturing that sense of intensity that quality anime battles are known for. We get a taste of this in the opening fight scene as D goes one-on-one with a vampire and it's turned up to eleven when he takes on a horde of monsters later on in the book. The variety of these creatures is amazing. Broussard's work is top notch.
|Click images to enlarge|
In between D's battles with the supernatural is the story of Cecile Romani, a young woman stationed on Mars with the ability to see into the future. She has ties to D...or rather, she will have ties to him. Although she comes out of the blue about a third of the way into the issue, writer Brandon Easton works quickly to make her relatable and interesting. She doesn't feel shoehorned in at all. You're pulled into her story and have to wonder how things get from here to the dark fate she sees in her visions.
Vampire Hunter D: Message from Mars is off to a tremendous start. Any fan of the anime film will love this book. While it gets extra points for nostalgia, it stands on its own with a solid story and gorgeous artwork. This is based on a previously untranslated and unpublished short story from creator Hideyuki Kikuchi, and I hope to see may more adaptations of D's adventures make their way to the comic book medium.