Moderate Spoilers: Iann Robinson Reviews FEDERAL VAMPIRE AND ZOMBIE AGENCY (FVZA) #3

I’m the first to say that the entire Vampire phenomenon bores me to tears. Not just sexy vampires or romantic vampires or even brutal vampires but all of it, the entire undead vampire thing has gotten to the point where I wish Bram Stoker had decided to write about puppies or snowmen. When FVZA issue #3 (Radical Publishing) came across my desk I instantly extended my claws to shred it.

First off the full title was Federal Vampire And Zombie Agency, which is really stupid. Secondly the vampires were looking to turn the world into the undead with the use of a virus, a newer aspect of the vampire legacy, using a terrorist style plot to forward their movement. I’ve always had a problem with world domination vampires because if we’re all bloodsuckers then what do they eat? Like I said, my claws were out.

Then something rare and incredibly cool happened, FVZA #3 turned out to be one really top-notch book. Taking cues from titles like 30 Days Of Night & Walking Dead, FVZA rises above the normal dreck by focusing on the human story and allowing the vampire/zombie undead issues to play havoc around it. The story is centered on Hugo Pecos -- commander of the FVZA -- and his two star solider grandchildren: Landra and Vidal. By issue #3 the FVZA has tracked the vampires to their headquarters and is planning a burn ‘em all mission to destroy the undead, the virus and all of their minions once and for all. From there unfolds a family mystery that once uncovered could ruin everybody involved.

Writer David Hine does a superb job of balancing action with the human drama as well as making sure the dialog doesn’t get too hokey. Sure there are some cliché “go solider” moments but realistically that’s probably how gung ho military folks would probably act. What I really enjoyed was how Hine set you up for a second big reveal by first uncovering that Hugo Pecos’ wife, grandmother to Landra and Vidal, is actually the vampire queen. I know it sounds cheesy but the way Hine tells the back-story it plays out as more tragedy than melodrama. If I had to lodge one complaint about the story it’s that I wanted to know more about the second big reveal, it kind of hits you with shock impact and then fades away. I also enjoyed the way Hines ended it, again playing to the human story as opposed to just the action.

Don’t worry though, there is plenty of action and it’s rendered beautifully by the artists involved starting with pencils by Roy Allan Martinez & Wayne Nichols through the actual painting done by Kinsun Loh and Jerry Choo. FVZA has a very oil on canvas look to it that gives the story a fantasy sheen as well really bringing out the ferocity and ugliness of the vampires. Each panel here seems like a small work of art though this kind of work does leave a little to be desired with human faces. Outside of that this artwork blends beautifully with the story.

If you enjoy smart, well written, vampire fantasy lore then the FVZA series is something I recommend picking up. This is the kind of work that not only exposes why vampires keep us interested but also how things like Twilight do the legacy a real disservice.


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