Cover date: Late February 2009
"Fear the Night!"
Writer: Kevin VanHook
Penciller: Tom Mandrake
Inker: Tom Mandrake
Reviewed by: Ralph Silver
When cornered by Superman and Langstrom, Chadd takes a quick exit by crashing through a rear window made of bulletproof glass. Only after he is in freefall does he realize he had been on the upper floor of a skyscraper, hundreds of feet above the street. Sunlight is deadly to vampires; and as Chadd falls, he succumbs immediately to the effects of sunlight; ending his brief "undead life". Superman, Batman, and Langstrom briefly mourn the loss of the boy in silence.
Jason Blood returns with a new plan for addressing the vampire/werewolf problem. They head to Gotham Park, since that is a site likely to attract the damned. Jason utters the incantation that transforms him into Etrigan the Demon. Then he performs a mystic ritual designed to bring the supernatural creatures forth. He uses the remains of Chadd Cole as bait. This makes Superman uneasy; but because he is way out of his element on issues of magic, he defers to the judgment of Etrigan. The spell works; and Marius Dimeter (the vampire) and Janko (the werewolf) are inexorably drawn to the gathering.
Suddenly, the hideous monster that Batman fought in issue #2 appears. Janko transforms into his werewolf form and tackles the creature. Superman aims a powerful blast of heat vision at the malevolent creature. Suddenly, a horde of vampires and werewolves materialize in response to Etrigan's spell. A battle royal ensues; with Superman, Batman, Marius Dimeter, and Janko on one side; and the vampire and werewolf horde and the hideous monster on the other. Etrigan the Demon does not join the fight; as he is busy preparing for an even greater role. When the Demon is ready, Superman hurls the monster into the mystic circle; and Etrigan recites another spell and banishes the creature back to the realm from which it came. This happens in an impressive display of mystical light and energy; and the faces of the creature's murder victims are briefly displayed.
With the hideous monster gone, at least one of the victims has returned to human form. There is speculation that if Chadd Cole had not been exposed to sunlight, he would be back to normal now also. Superman flies away with the remains of Chadd Cole, to see to a proper burial. Marius Dimeter and Janko are very discouraged to discover that unlike some others, they have not reverted to their human selves. This disappointment leads to bickering and threats between Marius and Janko. After Janko leaves, Batman suggests that because Dimeter has "a soul", he can reason and fight the hunger within. Because of this, Batman feels that Marius would be an excellent vampire hunter, able to track down and confront the remaining vampires. But Marius wants no part of it; and just wants to return to normal. As he vanishes, Marius declares that he will find a cure for the virus.
In Epilogue #1, we see that Professor Combs is being escorted into his cell at Arkham Asylum. Combs is plotting and scheming to produce even greater mystical mischief next time.
In Epilogue #2, we see that Dimeter is in a car, using his lady friend from issue #5 to help chauffeur him around. Marius needs the help of his friend, since she can move around in the daylight. Batman looks on and ponders. He decides that although Dimeter is violent and unpredictable, he is better than the EVIL he is hunting. Then Batman realizes that some people say the same thing about him.
Story - 3: It is clear from my previous reviews that I enjoyed this series, as unusual as it was. But I must admit that issue #6 brought things to a rather weak conclusion. There are no major gaffes or holes in the logic that would justify a rating of 2. But this final installment is sufficiently lackluster that I could not consider a rating of 4. So what we have here is a solid 3; an average comic book.
I guess my disappointment stems from the fact that most issues were unresolved in the end. Despite Superman's best efforts, Chadd Cole died a horrible death anyhow. I certainly expected to see Marius Dimeter and Janko cured in this final installment; but that was not to be. Although the hideous monster has been banished, only SOME of the dark magic has been undone. Some vampires reverted to their human selves, and some did not. And despite some discussion about the "purity of the creature's blood" contributing to those variations, I found that explanation a bit arbitrary and unsatisfying. In the end, Superman has flown off, despondent and wracked with guilt because he was unable to save Chadd. And Batman is his usual grim self. And after six issues of anticipation, this ending just left me a little flat.
I guess life is not always happy endings. But I was just looking for a little more payoff in the final installment. A little closure...
But despite my above concerns, there were still aspects to issue #6 that I enjoyed. I liked that Superman took such a personal interest in Chadd Cole's plight. That certainly seemed in character for me.
I found an exchange between Superman and Batman interesting. After Etrigan has banished the monster, and just before Superman leaves with the remains of Chadd, Batman turns to his friend and says one word: "Superman". Superman replies "I know" and then flies off. My interpretation of this scene was that Batman is trying to console his friend and reassure Superman that Chadd's demise was not Superman's fault. Perhaps Batman's meaning is that even if you are Superman, you still have your limits. Because they are such close friends, Batman is able to convey this idea to his friend with the utterance of a single word, and with the inflection in his voice.
But that was just *my* interpretation. What did *you* think?
I was very happy to see Etrigan the Demon make a return appearance. Etrigan was perfect for this series. It makes absolute sense that he would be central to the final resolution of the vampire/werewolf problem. And Etrigan is a commanding presence in every panel that he appears in.
With Marius Dimeter and Janko still wandering the streets of Gotham, a few of the other vampires still at large, and Combs plotting further mischief in his cell at Arkham; Kevin VanHook has certainly left things wide open for a possible sequel. Maybe that was his intent all along.
Art - 4: Tom Mandrake has again produced some very fine artwork. I liked the opening splash, showing Chadd Cole revealing his inner demons. And I liked the two-page battle royal showing Superman and Batman in the thick of battle and the Demon raising his arms in an almost gleeful pose. I have given Tom Mandrake's internal artwork a 5 in each of my previous reviews of this series. I downgraded it to a 4 this time because there were not, for me, any "knock-your-socks-off" images; like there were in every previous issue. But a 4 is still a good, solid job.
Cover Art - 5: Here we have Superman and Batman in battle. Superman has a snarling werewolf in his face; and he is busy keeping its fangs away from his throat. Batman is looking determined as he battles a particularly hideous vampire. I like how he makes a cross with his batarangs to repel the beast. Pretty clever! All four faces are shown close up. Each face shows a real intensity. You can almost hear the creatures howling. Another really good cover!
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.