Sunday, August 3, 2014

Review: THE STRAIN #5

DARK HORSE COMICS – @DarkHorseComics

STORY: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
SCRIPT: David Lapham
ART: Mike Huddleston
COLORS: Dan Jackson
LETTERS: Clem Robins
COVER: E.M. Gist
28pp, Color, $3.50 U.S. (June 2012)

Part 5: “Origins”

Dark Horse Comics previously made PDF copies of all 11 issues of its horror comic book series, The Strain, available to comic book reviewers on its mailing list.  This offer was part of DHC’s promotional effort for the follow-up series, The Strain: The Fall.  I took up that offer and reviewed all 11 issues of The Strain for the ComicBookBin.

I have previously posted my reviews of The Strain, issues #1 through 4, here on the “I Reads You” blog.  Over the course of the coming weeks, I will post the reviews of issues 5 to 11 on this blog in conjunction with the broadcast of “The Strain,” the television adaptation of the original novel.  The first episode aired on Sunday night, July 13, 2014 on cable channel, FX, with each new episode airing the following Sunday.

Thus far, I think the first two issues The Strain comic book were better than the first two episodes of “The Strain” TV series.  However, I found that the third episode, “Gone Smooth,” (Sunday, July 27, 2014) matched the intensity of the comic book.


Published by Dark Horse Comics, The Strain is an 11-issue comic book adaptation of the 2009 vampire novel, also entitled The Strain, from filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (Blade II, Hellboy) and novelist Chuck Hogan (Prince of Thieves).  The adaptation is scripted by David Lapham, drawn by Mike Huddleston, colored by Dan Jackson, and lettered by Clem Robins.

The Strain’s lead character is Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control).  Eph heads the Canary Project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats.   With his second-in-command, Nora Martinez, Eph has found such a threat.  It begins at J.F.K. International Airport in New York City, where a Boeing 777 went dead silent after landing, while inside, almost all the passengers and crew were dead.

The Strain #5 opens at the 17th Precinct Headquarters in a holding cell.  There, Professor Abraham Setrakian tells fellow cellmate, Gusto, a story that takes them back in time.  It begins in 1927 in Romania.  Young Abraham is a woodworker whose life is about to be turned upside down by the Nazis.

Moving forward to 1942, Abraham is imprisoned at the Treblinka Death Camp.  His skills keep him alive, but he discovers another threat – the monstrous Sardu.  That’s where the battle between good and evil really begins, and where Abraham’s bid for freedom will determine the fate of many.

Writing comic book reviews of the various issues of The Strain have been easy.  Writer David Lapham and artist Mike Huddleston are a good team.  Lapham decompresses the story, but the narrative pace moves with ever increasing urgency, heightening the sense of drama, especially the moments of violence.  Huddleston brings it to life with compositions full of details that create atmosphere, but most especially embody what each moment is supposed to be.

Lapham and Huddleston’s efforts have earned readers’ notice.  Fans of horror comic books must try The Strain.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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