Title: The Strain: Volume 1
Authors: Guillermo Del Toro, Mike Huddleston, David Lapham, Dan Jackson
No. of Pages: 272
Genre: Graphic Novel; Horror
Origins: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 22 July 2014
Bottom Line: Fantastic illustrations that enhance this frightening story
“When a Boeing 777 lands at JFK International Airport and goes dark on the runway, the Centers for Disease Control, fearing a terrorist attack, calls in Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his team of expert biological-threat first responders. Only an elderly pawnbroker from Spanish Harlem suspects a darker purpose behind the event—an ancient threat intent on covering mankind in darkness.”
Thoughts: Having read the entire series when the books were first released, this reading of the graphic novel was nothing more than an opportunity to see the story in pictures, as Guillermo Del Toro imagined it to be as he was writing the novels. Anyone else looking to do the same will not be disappointed. Similarly, fans of horror will find much to love about the graphic rendering of this creepy story.
It must be stated that while Del Toro himself calls this a vampire story, the illustrations prove without a doubt that these nasty creatures are not vampires. The tentacles protruding from their mouths are all the visual proof one needs to realize this. Then there is the method by which the creatures reproduce. Again, this has nothing to do with the vampire mythology but more with the zombie myths. If anything, to call this series a vampire story does the series a disservice because the creatures are much nastier than any of the vampire iterations established throughout the years.
One other thing to strike readers perusing the graphic novel is the characters themselves. There is an otherworldly aspect about all of the illustrations that hints at the darkness to come, both literally as the story progresses and figuratively in the characters’ actions. All of the characters appear larger than life, more cartoonish than realistic, but rather than making them clownish, these details help showcase the stakes each character faces and the huge leaps of faith and development they must make if they stand a chance of survival.
The graphic novel version of The Strain is a faithful rendering of the original story with the added bonus of terrifying images sanctioned by the authors. These illustrations drive home the point that these things are no longer human and a true scourge on society. Having the visual cues to coincide with the written ones makes The Strain one of the scarier novels to read. In other words, it is something true horror fans should not miss.