As part of its line-wide relaunch in September, DC Comics will be revamping a popular horror romance from an early-1980s "House of Mystery" arc, though its characters have been seldom seen since. Originally created by J.M. DeMatteis, the new "I, Vampire" will be firmly set in the DC Universe, and will feature the talents of "Tumor" writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Andrea Sorrentino. As with the other post-"Flashpoint" titles, many details of "I, Vampire" are shrouded in mystery, but, speaking with CBR News, Fialkov gave an enticing preview of what's to come in the series.
Fialkov described Andrew Bennett, the vampire at the heart of the series, as "a guy with tremendous power that's equalled only by his guilt." "When he was first turned into a vampire, his first act was to turn the love of his life, Mary, as well. Except, while he was more or less the same person before and after, Mary was 'infected' with evil. But, y'know, love doesn't just disappear. He still has these feelings for her that span centuries. He can't forget her any more than he can just stake her," the writer explained.
"For the past hundred years or so, they've had an understanding -- an armistice so to speak, between him and her as the leader of the vampires. The vampires stay hidden, and he doesn't hunt them. They don't feed, and they get to live forever.
"And up until now, that's worked."
Bennett's former lover will prove to be his greatest adversary in the new series, as she was in the original 24-part "House of Mystery" story. "Mary is really the antagonist, but, at the same time, she's also the romantic heart of the book," Fialkov said. "She represents passion gone wrong -- what happens when someone you love becomes something unforgivably awful? And what if it's your fault? That's what Andrew has to deal with, and, frankly, what Mary has to cope with, too.
"To her, she's doing everything she does to win him back, to bring him into the fold. But their goals are so opposed to each other that it's just completely impossible."
As for friends and allies, Bennett has few, Fialkov told CBR. "He's a lonely man, save for the Professor, a man who's life Andrew saved years before who was a sort of grossly incompetent vampire hunter on his own. But, as we go on, they pick up a few strays here and there."
Given the preponderance of popular vampire stories in pop culture today, which can be as different from each other as "Twilight" and "True Blood," or "Buffy" and "30 Days of Night," CBR asked Fialkov what sort of blood-sucking epic he was setting up for this series and what would set "I, Vampire" apart from the pack. "I'm a huge fan of 'Buffy' and '30 Days of Night,' and like to think we fall squarely in between the two of them," he said. "The book is equal parts romance and horror, very much in the Dracula mold.
"I've worked on a ton of vampire fiction... I adapted the 'Dark-Hunter' vampire romance novels into manga, as well as the insane 'Princess Resurrection' manga... I wrote 'Vampirella' for a year or two, and even worked on a creator-owned series at Dark Horse a few years ago that was a more science oriented take on them. Hell, my first paid job in comics was writing a short story set in the '30 Days of Night' universe," Fialkov continued. "So, I know vampires. But, at the same time, I've got '30 Days of Night' and 'American Vampire' and 'Twilight' and the 'Vampire Diaries' all swirling around me. I wanted to find something original to say and do with the book that really pushed the limits of what it means to be a vampire.
"I think part of that, especially in the first issue, is the joy of it. The powers that they have are just amazing, and we really get to see that, look, it's a curse, but it's also a blessing. It's a chance to float in the clouds as mist and run through the woods as a wolf. When you're as old and as powerful as Mary and Andrew, the world is your plaything. What drives the book is the two very different ideas our characters have about what that exactly means."
The artist for "I, Vampire" is Andrea Sorrentino, who previously illustrated Wildstorm's "God of War" miniseries. "There's a realism to Andrea's work that's extraordinary. The book feels grounded in a real, functional universe, making the grotesqueness of the horror all the more upsetting," Fialkov said of his collaborator. "To see people who are beautiful but real, I think, gives the book a more relatable edge, which, again, is sort of the trick to all of this."
Though Fialkov was not able to reveal much about where "I, Vampire" fits into the broader DC Universe and the publisher's plans, he did confirm that "the book is absolutely set in the DCU, and Andrew and Mary's actions will have consequences across the whole world."
Asked how a series like "I, Vampire" -- which might previously have fallen under the Vertigo umbrella -- maps to what has long been a predominantly superhero-focused DCU, Fialkov said that the relaunch, coupled with his own inclinations as a writer, allows for some interesting possibilities. "If you've read any of my other work, you know that it's almost impossible for me to just write something normal and straight. I like to think that's part of why they came to me to write the book," he said. "The book definitely leans that way, but, I think the point for me is to show just how wide the scope of the DCU is. I'm using toys that have always been there; I'm just using them in different ways.
"What I'm most excited about is to merge to massively underserved genres in a mainstream book. I've wanted to do a romance comic of my own for a long time, and, to merge it with horror, which is where I come from as a writer and, where I often times default to, is damn exciting."