CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER #1 by Dan Abnett and Tom Mandrake
Characterization
Art
Plot
Summary
Dan Abnett's story fails to bring something new to the general concept of vampire dramas, but some of the lore is fresh and new. While the characterization is shaky, the gritty art by Tom Mandrake is captivating.
50 %
A Mixed Bag
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I’ve always been a huge fan of vampires. When I was a kid I fell in love with BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and frequently made trips to the library to check out any and all books on the undead creatures. I love when vampires are scary. When they’re funny, I love them even more. I certainly never complain when they’re sexy. So, when CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER #1 was up for review, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Unfortunately, I’m not all that charmed by this first issue. The general storyline feels like old hat. While I like the supporting characters, the main character is rather lackluster. On the other hand, some of the lore surrounding the vampires is fresh and intriguing. Additionally, the artwork is exciting and gritty. I may be a harsh critic because of my long-standing love for the genre, but this issue has a lot of ups and downs.

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Same Old, Same Old

CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER #1 takes place in Eastern Europe in the mid 17th century. The set-up of the story is overwhelmingly vague. On top of that, the story lacks a new perspective right off the bat.  The titular character devotes his life to slaying vampires because the monsters murdered his whole family. This issue doesn’t even delve into that particular trauma, so there are no distinct features given at this point. Familial massacres are the origin stories for ninety percent of heroes, it seems.

It’s not like I’m asking for every piece of vampire media to be set in modern day with flashy storylines. Contemporary plots can lack originality, too. However, if a writer is going to fall back on what’s easy — or to be more kind, what’s “classic” — there have to be some outstanding characters to carry readers through.

Iffy Characterization

A stoic hero, a disabled mentor, and an over-sexualized yet unladylike assistant walk into a vampire-infested town. Even if that were the set-up to a joke, these characters are pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a classic vampire story. The main character, Kronos, is threatening, but ultimately unemotional. Righteous justice is all that drives him. Really, he’s a total snoozefest.

CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER #1
Image from CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER #1, courtesy of Titan Comics.

Grost is the man with all the knowledge. He knows about all different kinds of vampires and how to end them. He’s got a bit of a wicked sense of humor, some cool facial hair, and a peg leg. He used to be a hunter all on his own, which is a comic I would certainly read. However, he needs Kronos to do the killing now, because we all know disabled people can’t do anything.

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Scathing sarcasm aside, the other companion, Carla, is a fine character. She’s sassy and clever and badass. As far as characterization, I could probably even look the other way at the fact that she is pointedly unfeminine in behavior while adhering strictly to the standard of perfect female beauty. It’s the attitude of the surrounding world that bothers me. I’m aware it’s the 17th century, but readers don’t need an abundance of sexism. In the first issue alone she is lauded as a sexual fantasy, told to learn her place, and made to prove herself to her own team. Beyond that, in the beginning of the issue, her breasts seem to pop out of her dress more and more with every breath she takes.

New Lore

I’m glad to give credit where it’s due. In CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER #1, the lore that Grost imparts is really interesting. He says there are many different kinds of vampires — some that drink blood, some that live off of “vital essence,” and some that feed on youth. It’ll be interesting to see how variety plays out through the series.

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I also enjoy all the ways in which the team can fight vampires. Sunlight, stakes, holy water, crosses, and garlic are typically the extent of anti-vampire measures, but this issue gives us more to work with. Obsidian mirrors, silver dust and oak ash mixtures, and salt are just some of the new weapons that work against the monsters.

Gritty Artwork

Tom Mandrake‘s art and Sian Mandrake’s coloring is quite possibly the most interesting part of CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER #1. The Mandrakes commit to the gruesomeness of the vampires, when so often vampires have enthralling beauty. Also, I’m always a sucker for some skillful blood splatter. There are times where I feel myself cringing away from the comic, waiting to feel the wet splashes. There are some unfortunate aspects, like the unnecessary angles down Carla’s dress, and even how her dress increasingly gapes. Still, overall, the visuals are rather captivating.

CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER #1
Image from CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER #1, courtesy of Titan Comics.

Final Thoughts on CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER #1

Personally, I’m willing to see if the next issues can improve on originality. I don’t know if there’s a way back from some of the sketchy characterization. Maybe my extensive knowledge of vampirism blinds me, but this issue failed to bring the undead to life for me.

CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER #1 is available now in stores or online at Comixology!

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