"Graveyard Shift #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Jay Faerber
Illustrated by Fran Bueno
2014, 32 Pages, $3.50
Comic released on December 24th, 2014
Liam had a pretty good life. He had a decent job as a cop and a beautiful girlfriend by his side. Things couldn't have been better. That was before he and his crew busted a vampire. Now they're gunning for him and his lady, and they're out for blood. The basic premise of "cop vs. vampires" is the setup for Graveyard Shift from writer Jay Faerber and artist Fran Bueno.
The bulk of the debut issue is spent establishing Liam and his surroundings. You get a great sense of who he is and what his life is like. Sure, his day job can be a little crazy as a police officer, but it's a living. He shares an apartment with Hope and they seem very happy together. Outside of the vampire bust at the beginning of the book, things seem pretty normal. When the bloodsuckers come at him, Liam's life is turned completely upside down. His world is shattered. It all happens so fast.
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The vampire element in Graveyard Shift creeps in. It isn't immediately clear that the criminal in the opening pages is a vampire. Yes, there is something off about him and definitely supernatural, but he doesn't have his fangs out or any sort of transformation. This makes him look rather unsettling. You don't know what he's up to or why, nor do you know why the cops are busting him to begin with. The first time you actually lay eyes on him is from an awkward angle too. He's clinging to the ceiling as the cops walk in underneath him. This is a brilliant shot that instantly sets the book on a different level than your average cop story.
The next appearance of the vampires is much more in line with modern day depictions. They look like the creatures you'd see on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with bumpy faces and fangs. They also grow out long fingernails, making their hands look like claws. Bueno does a great job with these characters and really brings home the inhuman feeling about them. They get shot repeatedly, sometimes right in the head, and they just get right up again. What's great is that they don't stand back up naturally. They do it awkwardly...you know...like they were just shot in the face. This adds to that unnatural tone.
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Bueno also delivered a dynamite cover for this issue. It's sparse on detail, instead showing Liam and his girlfriend Hope in profile in a cemetery. It's a dark image filled with sorrow.
Faerber has a talent for introductions. The same could be said for his sci-fi series Copperhead. He hits you with just enough information to pull you in, yet still manages to quickly set up the "rules" of this new world. Graveyard Shift packs a punch with drama, romance, and a healthy dose of good old-fashioned vampire horror.
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