Claws of Darkness Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: DrMaster
  • MSRP: 5.95
  • Pages: 64
  • ISBN: 1-59796-085-3
  • Size: N/A
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Claws of Darkness Vol. #01

By Robert Harris     December 15, 2006
Release Date: January 25, 2006

Claws of Darkness Vol.#01
© DrMaster

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Writer: Josev / Artist: Jerry Cho
Translated by:Yun Zhao
Adapted by:Ailen Lujo

What They Say
The small border town of Santa Anna, Mexico is no stranger to violence. The gruesome death of a local gang member on the outskirts of town further heightens tensions. So when a mysterious stranger arrives in town shortly thereafter, the locals become leery--who is this man and what is his background? Are the stranger and the resent murders in some way related to local drug kingpin Gino Carlos? Unlikely! As the stranger begins to investigate the string of bizarre murders, the townsfolk realize there is much more to this newcomer than meets the eye.

The Review
The front cover has a great shot of Nicholas Bane, the main character, off to the right, holding a sword at chest-height and assorted vampire hunting equipment in at his side. Behind him are part of a full moon and a cloud of bats, which curves around the spine to the back cover, where the moon and bats are seen above the town of Santa Anna. The title is written on the upper-left side of the front cover, with the volume summary imposed over the moon on the back cover in red font. This all adds up to a very menacing and attractive color, which definitely gives off the same feeling as the inside of the volume.

The art is very stylized, so there isn't an enormous amount of detail, and character designs are merely okay. The coloring is absolutely amazing though; the entire comic feels like a hand-held painting. The colors themselves have a muted, washed-out feeling to them, which gives everything a very run-down, western feel, and makes Santa Anna come alive with an almost palpable feeling of run-down emptiness.

The translation is pretty spot-on. There's not much text to begin with, as characters tend to speak in short sentences. Things can sometimes get slightly confusing, and there are a few instances of ambiguity, but overall dialogue flows well. There's not much of it to begin with, as Claws of Darkness is definitely heavy on the "graphic" and light on the "novel".

These first sixty-four pages in the Claws of Darkness series introduces Nicholas Bane as he arrives in Santa Anna, a small town on the Mexican border. Some strange stuff has been going down in Santa Anna, and Bane has followed the trail of a vampire (or vampires perhaps) to the town. When he first arrives he strikes sparks with the local townsfolk, but that's soon forgotten as a man turns up dead. Bane then spends the rest of the novel doing some vampire detective work and keeping watch over the town. He stays at the Azul Bar, run by a girl named Anna who is one of the three important characters introduced so far in Claws of Darkness; you can tell that because of the constant hints at her back story. Later on we also get to see Carlos, the local mob boss that people seem to hate but fear. He is, as you might expect of any villain in a decent vampire tale, a vampire.

I didn't really know what to think going into Claws of Darkness. It's definitely firmly planted in the comic book realm; this is not a manga in any modern sense of the word, which is very important to understand. As such, I was at a bit of a loss, since I've never being a huge fan of comics. After getting adjusted, however, I have to admit that Claws did surprise me quite a bit. At sixty-four pages you can't expect an epic story to be told (or even started) but what's here is quite enjoyable for what it is: a gory, violent story of vampires and a really big guy that hunts them. There's no ponderous existentialism or tired diatribes about the nature of immortality or parasitic existence, which are so often found in vampire fiction of any medium nowadays; just lots of blood and a rocket launcher and a really big knife. Unfortunately, with all that said, this volume takes its time establishing a foundation for the series, and so far there have been precious little "Bane beating the hell out of vampires/people/monsters" scenes.

This first volume of Claws of Darkness moseys along at a fairly slow clip, punctuated by random acts of extreme, explicit violence. It's not a bad start, but hopefully the pacing picks up soon and vampires start getting dropped. There's also some connection between this and Vampire Hunter D, but as I'm not familiar with D I can't comment on the nature of the connection. Regardless, speaking as someone coming into the series completely fresh, it's still a promising start.


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