In the new tradition of musicians creating comics comes Radical’s Incarnate, from Nick (son of KISS’ Gene) Simmons, and I gotta say, it’s not too bad. This 3 issue mini-series is a reinvention of the vampire mythos, but before you roll your eyes at that notion, let me say that Simmons, as both writer and artist does a respectable job of breathing new life in to the undead.
It opens with one of preacher/poet John Donne’s works about death, from a few centuries ago, before revealing a naked boy eating a dog in an alley, while speaking lines like, “I am a bloodhound tethered to an invisible master.” Right off the bat, you know this isn’t a typical vamp comic.
Mot, the naked kid grabs some clothes off a hobo he’s just drained blood from before shooting Connor, a vamp assassin in the face, but it’s just a flesh wound. The pair then go to a club of vamps, or “revenants” as they’re known in Incarnate where they discover that their old foe Solomon Vane and his family are tracking them. Not only that, they’ve finally discovered a way to kill them. A battle comences with Vane’s eager general Vincent and an army of well armed soldiers but only Mot and Connor remain behind to fight them, and things don’t look good for the pair.
Incarnate is off to an impressive debut. It’s wildly different from any of Radical’s other offerings. Their painterly, serious approach is not taken here and this resembles a standard comic that you’d find from another publisher. Having Nick Simmons’ name on the cover certainly helps, as does the exposure its received on his family’s reality TV show. Not alot is revealed about the revenants at this point. We know they’re immortal and treat humans with disdain, but that’s about it. Two more issues isn’t much at all to build upon that mythology, but perhaps if this series is successful enough, more will follow.
The manga influences are strikingly obvious, but Simmons makes it work. His passion for manga can be seen on every page, with flowing blood, speed lines and jagged panels everywhere. However, there’s a sense of clarity and purpose to the design. It never feels cumbersome and the story is satisfyingly streamlined. I can only assume Simmons is the primary penciller, as there is also an inker, a colorist and three assistant artists given credit. I’ve never seen that before, but Nam Kim is the only one given the honour of a cover credit besides Simmons’ name. However, from all the interviews I’ve read, and his appearance at Radical’s Comic-Con panel, this is Simmons’ show all the way. Considering this is his first comic as both writer and artist, he’s off to a good start. Hopefully with his name attached, and its manga flavour, many non-regular comics readers will pay attention and give Incarnate the chance it deserves.