30 Days of Night: 15th Anniversary Edition ComicWow! Review

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This volume includes 30 Days of Night #1–3, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days #1– 6, and 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrowf #1– 6.

Steve Niles is one of the most successful horror writers in comics today.  His works include Monster and Madman, Aleister Arcane, Criminal Macabre, Simon Dark, Doc Macabre, Zombies Versus Robots, and so much more.  He is currently working on The October Faction.

Ben Templesmith is originally known as the artist most often associated with iconic horror writer Steve Niles on Criminal Macabre and more.  He is also known as the artist on Hellspawn. He is now becoming known as a writer, having done double duty on Singularity 7, Ten Grand, and Squidder, and more.  He has been nominated (both as artist and as artist/writer) for multiple Eisner and International Horror Guild Awards, including one for this title.

Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith revived the vampire genre with the Barrow Trilogy.  In the years before 30 Days of Night, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s handsome vampire boyfriend Angel was probably the most well-known vampire on TV.  In 2001, the first Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) novel was published.  For decades, since Bela Lugosi’s iconic performance in 1931, vampires had been portrayed in an almost Freudian light, more as romantic seducers, than as blood-sucking reanimated corpses.

The vampires envisioned by Templesmith and Niles are not mindless zombies, but they are not human.  If they refer to a cinematic vampire, it is Nosferatu’s Graf Orlock.  Pale and unalive, yet able to pass for human, these vampires are the stuff of nightmares.  These are not supernatural beings, they are predators.  Humans are not potential lovers; they are livestock.

30 Days of Night takes place in the tiny town of Barrow, Alaska.  It is so far north that it experiences the phenomenon of a month-long day in the summer and an equally long night in the winter.  This makes Barrow the perfect place for a mass vampires attack.

In Dark Days, one of the few survivors has written a book about the attack.  Vampires who have become dependent on the fact that most people think of them as a fiction decide that they must eliminate her.  She, on the other hand, is trying to revive her husband, who dies protecting Barrow in the first story.

In Return to Barrow, the survivors are rebuilding their town, but they know that each winter, they must prepare for an onslaught.  The world does not believe their story of vampire invasion, so they must defend their homes unassisted by the outside world.

Niles is a brilliant writer. His characters face the challenge not with bravado, but the fatalism born of necessity.  Barrow is their home; they will defend it.

Ben Templesmith’s artwork is distinctive and brilliant.  His impressionistic style is arresting, and perfect for horror.

Niles and Templesmith have amassed a huge number of awards for comics and for horror writing. Although it is clearly impossible to say that either of these two storytellers has even approached the peak of their powers, this is an excellent example of why they are both considered modern masters of the genre.

Written by: Steve Niles

Illustrated by: Ben Templesmith