War-Era Noir… With Vampires: Reviewing ‘The Vain’ #1

by Brendan M. Allen

Chicago, 1941. A blood bank is held up in a robbery, but no cash is taken—only blood. It’s the latest in a string of similar crimes and FBI Agent Felix Franklin is certain it’s part of a wider plot. But the truth is much more sinister than he could imagine.

The four robbers—who call themselves The Vain—are vampires: immortal, physically powerful, and after decades of honing their skills, practically untraceable. But in a world that is rapidly changing, stealing blood is harder every day and with each decade that passes, Agent Franklin inches closer to the truth. Eliot Rahal, Emily Pearson, and Fred C. Stressing kick off a series that spans nearly a century of wild eternal youth and reckless abandon across history.

In an age when literary and cinematic vampires are all sparkly and full of teen angst, The Vain goes down a different path. Eliot Rahal takes the classic set of vampire mythos and applies them to a quartet of slick war-era bank robbers. These are classy, stylish vampires, who don’t like getting messy. Hunting and killing? So passé. Especially when you can pull a heist without firing a single shot. Well, maybe just the one shot.

Art by Emily Pearson, Fred C. Stresing, and Macy Kahn is a brilliant fit to this period vampire noir. Pearson nails the period through fashion, architecture, and general swagger. Perspective and flow are very cinematic and easy to follow. Stresing and Kahn’s cool palette ages the thing and creates a great atmosphere, without crossing the line into corny or dated territory.

The Vain is off to a strong start. Rahal and co. kick off a sexy, energetic period noir piece that can honestly go in several different directions from here. That last pop promises that the team has some big things in store. The whole thing is very clever, right down to the title. The Vain. That’s right up there with Moonshine and Redneck as far as the killer monster double entendre goes. I’m into it.

The Vain #1, Oni Press, 14 October 2020. Written by Eliot Rahal, illustrated by Emily Pearson, color by Fred C. Stresing with Macy Kahn, letters by CRANK!, variant cover by Jenny Cha.

Summary

A blood bank is held up, but no cash is taken—only blood. It’s the latest in a string of similar crimes and FBI Agent Felix Franklin is certain it’s part of a wider plot. But the truth is much more sinister than he could imagine.

The four robbers—who call themselves The Vain—are vampires: immortal, physically powerful, and after decades of honing their skills, practically untraceable. 

Overall
8.5/10
8.5/10

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It's a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.

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