I grabbed this for 2 reasons – the cover and the name. They’re both awesome. Written by Jesse Blaze Snider (yes, he is a musician, the son of Dee Snider infact) and pencilled by Ryan Benjamin this new six issue mini-series is kind of like Twilight for the manly.
Snider is fairly new to comics, but it doesn’t really show. The old familiar story convention of having a narrator introduce us to a dying man and how he got into that predicament kicks things off, before we’re hit with, “But I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s not where the story begins. It’s not even where it ends. Our story begins six feet underground.” Sure, not entirely original to start a story with the protagonist’s death, but in this case it works-barely. The dead man is Jonathan Romero. He gets out of his grave, having been buried in 1986 and finds a homeless girl called Whisper hanging out at the cemetery with her snarling dog. They exchange unpleasantries and part ways, with Romero (nicknamed Romeo) seemingly smitten. The building of this romance between the cynical Whisper and the undead vampire Romeo is the basis of the series. Romeo has done some horrendous things to escape hell apparently, and was protected by the also-resurrected Hollywood Vampires, a collective of bad fangs. To escape hell forever they must kill a virgin.
For a debut issue, this is okay. There’s a lot to introduce here, but compared to say, Mark Waid’s Irredeemable, or even Hexed which were strengthened by their simplicity, Dead Romeo seems to be filling every page with characters. If all those characters serve a purpose, then that’s fine, but only future issues will tell. Snider’s not a bad writer though. Romeo seems quite clearly the romantic vampire, a la Angel, while every other vamp seems like they’re auditioning for the next Lost Boys sequel. They’re all bad to the bone. Got it.
I’ll give this series a go, because despite my harshness, I can see what Snider’s attempting. There’s going to be a battle, with love caught in the middle, and tough choices involving sacrifice to be made. Dead Romeo just needs time to develop the characters, and Snider shows promise in his dialogue. It’s not off to a great start, but with more streamlining this series could be interesting. Benjamin’s pencils are fine. There’s heaps of blood (if there was any swearing this would’ve been a Vertigo book) and each character, including Romeo in his glam rock outfit, Death the skeletal barman, and Dwight Phry (leader of the Hollywood vamps) possess a distinct visual identity.
Vampire tales have been through the wringer of pop culture so many times, there’s almost nothing new to say, but Snider may very well be creating an intriguing, atmospheric tale here. It’s just hard to see so far.
See a preview of this ish here.