I’ve always been a fan of comics growing up. There was always a pile of Spider-man comics on my floor. I would get them for my birthday or on trips to the store. For some unexplainable reason, I stopped reading them once I got to high school and didn’t bother to follow up with any adventures that were happening other than what my brother told me while we were on the phone.
I walked into a massive comic store outside of Toronto a few years ago deciding that I was going to get back into reading comics again. Being a creature of habit, I went straight to the horror section and started looking for something to read that might give me nightmares. 30 Days of Night caught my eye, once I looked at the cover I took it immediately to the counter and left the store with my new book.
You may remember the vampire movie a few years ago called 30 Days of Night, it was based on this graphic novel by horror maestro Steve Niles. While the movie was entertaining it really didn’t capture the absolute terrifying demeanor of the book, and most of that credit goes to the artist Ben Templesmith. Mr. Templesmith has the ability to take a scene and create something truly mesmerizing. His blend of colors and background texture bring every panel to life.￼
Before Twilight brought vampires back to the mainstream for teenagers to obsess over, Steve Niles brought vampires back to terrify you in your dreams. The vampires depicted all throughout this series are hyper-violent, on the verge of starvation, all for the eradication of the human species, and love revenge killing. Vampires have always had a place in human folklore, but they’ve been able to be overtaken by a group determined humans. That’s not these vampires. They’re all badass.
This book is a collection of the first three stories from the 30 Days of Night series, the original 30 Days of Night, Dark Days, and Return To Barrow.
30 Days of Night
The first story brings us to the Northernmost town in Alaska, Barrow. Its claim to fame is that the sun doesn’t set from the end of May until the middle of August, also, the sun doesn’t rise from Thanksgiving until Christmas. We’re immediately introduced to the towns Sherrif, Eben Olemaun and his deputy, his wife, Stella, they are in the middle of investigating the theft of every cell phone and radio in town when they take a break to watch the final sunset. On the way back into town they notice a large group of strangers walking through the blistering cold without jackets.
Without going into too much detail or giving away obvious spoilers as to how it all plays out, I will tell you this: the town explodes in violence. So much violence.
This book also introduce￼d a new concept to vampire tradition, that they are unable to sense humans in the cold. It adds something to the story that prolongs the fight in town and allows the humans to hide in plain sight.
We weren’t introduced to too many named characters in this part of the book, for various reasons. Though we are introduced to an elder vampire named Vicente who arrived in town towards the end of the slaughter to teach the younger vampires, especially Marlow, a lesson in humility for ruining all that the vampires had accomplished in staying hidden. Despite the violence, the book ends on a heartwarming note as Stella and Eben do get to sit out and watch the sunrise together.
It’s been over a year since the massacre in Barrow, Alaska. One of the survivors of the attach, Stella Olemaun, has written a book detailing the death and destruction that took place. The sole purpose of the book was to bring the vampires out from hiding so that she can begin exterminating those that have killed her town.
The pacing of this book is a little slower than the original series. They doubled the number of issues in this so they could take their time and tell the story a little differently. In the year since the attack, Stella has turned into a total badass, she doesn’t take crap from anyone and turns into a reckless vigilante in the process. She used her police training to further expand her combat skills and has enlisted & trained a small team to help her with her mission. Lilith, the wife of the elder from the first series, makes a great appearance in this book, I’d read a whole book that featured her history she was so interesting. It turns out that when you’re one of the oldest on the planet, you can do some pretty amazing things with your powers, like get inside the head of another vampire and communicate with them.
As the book goes along we’re introduced to the notion that a bit of humanity can be retained from the darkness of a vampire, that some of them do have a personality and can control their urges. It doesn’t seem to be something that every vampire is able to accomplish but it was reassuring nonetheless.
Return to Barrow
In the last section, we return to Barrow three years after the original attack. We’re introduced to Brian Kitya and his son Marcus. Brian is the new sheriff and the brother of one of the victims of the attack. Brian moved to town to bring law where there was none since every other sheriff has died during the last 3 winters, and to find the answers to what happened to his brother and family.
The new sheriff happened to arrive only a few weeks before the sun vanishes for another 30 days of night. He’s thrust into the middle of another invasion, only this time the town is a little more prepared in their preparations. The vampires have shown up not just to feed but to wipe the town off the map once and for all.
To be honest this would have been the perfect close to the whole series. We’re left with a fantastic ending that brings a bit of closure to the town of Barrow and it’s people. We can go to be happy knowing that the town and it’s people are going to be safe from any further attacks, but there are 7 other books after this, many of them are not set near Barrow or deal with the Olemaun’s at all.
All in all, this is the book that got me back into reading about things that are not related to zombies.
Go buy it. Go read it.