Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Requiem - Vampire Knight: Resurrection

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded, and maybe you'd like to think about reading them as well. This time, a review of Requiem - Vampire Knight: Resurrection (Heavy Metal, 2009).

I spent years raising an eyebrow about this title, and boy, was I ever wrong. Requiem: Vampire Knight is a series of annual 48-page stories that Pat Mills scripts for a French publisher. Eight episodes, of a projected twelve, have been published. It's fully painted by Oliver Ledroit, and, translated into English, it appears annually in the pages of Heavy Metal, which I'd like to not set off alarm bells, but the magazine's presented far more terrible comics than good ones over the years. Plus, y'understand, I kinda got bored of vampires a really long time ago.

Still, the Guv'nor has written enough great comics to pique my curiosity when I saw a collected edition of this in Diamond's catalog a few months back, so I figured it was worth a try, and I'm very glad I did. Apparently, Mills began putting Requiem together during a frustrating period away from 2000 AD, where he and then-editor Andy Diggle locked horns over multiple issues, and the break clearly did everybody a world of good, because this is a terrific comic.

It starts in World War Two, where, in short order, a Nazi soldier named Heinrich learns that his girlfriend Rebecca is Jewish and then he gets shot dead with a bullet to the face. He wakes up on the planet Resurrection, where time flows backwards and morality is completely inverted. Here, evil gits like him have become vampires and are charged with acting as a police force of sorts, with an endless supply of willing victims, but constant intrusions into their order by new arrivals from throughout Earth's history and future. It's a world where archaeologists are charged with burying the past, and where the rulers of each social caste are, since time moves in reverse here, insane, hyperintelligent babies.

This book is absolutely bugnuts, and I mean that in the best possible way. About every eight pages, Mills ratchets up the stakes by adding crazy new concepts and characters, and giving the planet a wider, weirder scope than readers will be expecting going in. It probably wouldn't surprise anybody with a background in this kind of fiction to learn that Rebecca has reincarnated on Resurrection as well, and that the former lovers are now in opposition, but the nature of the Rebecca's new status as a ghoul is pretty stunning, particularly after we've met a trio of ghouls who steer flying pirate ships in air raids over major cities. The politics and infighting among the higher echelons of the vampires is truly fascinating stuff, and then we meet the giant, cybernetic werewolves...

The series has a pretty casual approach to violence and nudity which won't be to all readers' taste and marks this as a book for over-18s. That said, I'm very glad to finally have the chance to read Requiem, which certainly ranks among my favorite series by Mills. This English-language edition, published in the US by Heavy Metal, reprints the first three 48-page episodes in a 144-page book. Sadly, there are no additional features or background material presented; the annotations and supplementary information that Mills has provided for Rebellion and Titan are sorely missed here.

Sad to say, there seems to be a little publication confusion; it appears that Panini will also be releasing volumes this year, but each of these will only have two episodes per book, at 112 pages. I'd like to get that cleared up before folk start spending money on the wrong series. At any rate, this is highly recommended for older audiences, especially the ones like me who were a little skeptical!


victor said...

thanks for posting a review on this book. just got it in the mail a few days ago, and have torn right through it. your blogs are on my weekly check-ins... keep up the GREAT work!!!!

Tristan said...

Hi - I agree that this is an amazingly insane comic and sought out every Heavy Metal that featured it over the years (thank you eBay) - here's my review for your perusal

poppy said...

Hi there,
Good to see that Requiem is touching english speakers as well.
If you want to see more pics of Olivier Ledroit and get information about the novel and its authors, feel free to visit:
Resurrection Teh Evil's nest