Vampire Hunter D Vol. 12: Pale Fallen Angel - Parts 3 & 4 (Mania.com)

By:Kate O'Neil
Review Date: Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Release Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The bloody struggle against Lord Vlad has commenced, but in this family feud battles are hard fought and victories scarce.

Creative Staff
Writer/ARtist: Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshitaka Amano
Translation: Kevin Leahy
Adaptation: Kevin Leahy

What They Say
Baron Byron Balazs nears the end of his arduous journey; his bodyguard - the enigmatic and deadly Vampire Hunter D - has delivered him to his faraway home in Krauhausen. Having survived the near-epic journey, and many attempts on his life - ordered by his father, the dread Vampire Noble Lord Vlad - the baron thinks he is ready for his final battle, whatever the cost. But Lord Vlad is not so easily vanquished, as he unleashes yet another host of nefarious killers on his son, not least of whom is a mad doctor enlisted to perform sinister experiments on the young baron's mother years before! With their battle raging across the landscape of Krauhausen, Balazs turns to D for aid once again. As the longest Vampire Hunter D mega-novel to date races to a heart-stopping conclusion, can D, and their mysterious ally, the noblewoman Miska, stop Vlad's reign of terror once and for all?

The Review!

D and company have finally arrived in Krauhausen, a town which has existed under the jurisdiction of two extremely powerful men.  Lord Vlad Balazs looms over the town in his castle, while bordello owner Fisher Lagoon rules the area economically.  The group parts company and the characters go their separate ways, not always of their own will.
 
Byron departs to head straight for his dear mother and put a stop to his father’s reign.  This proves to be too great a challenge for Lord Vlad, who up until this point was as impervious to death and destruction as D.  He’s out of commission for most of this volume, which is highly unfortunate as he was one of the more interesting characters in the story.  
 
We’re also introduced to three new villains for the story arc: Doctor de Carriole, who is part ancient sorcerer and part mad scientist; and his two favorite henchmen, Chlomo the makeup lover and Sai Fung of the Thousand Limbs.  Unlike the quickly dispatched enemies of the last volume, these three are fleshed out and given a proper chance to cause havoc for D and his companions.  
 
Unfortunately, most of his companions are regulated to the role of damsel in distress in this volume.  Immediately upon arrival, Taki and May are kidnapped and sold into prostitution.  Taki is sold to Lord Vlad, and May is put into service.  In a particularly uncomfortable scene, the eleven year old is tortured and almost raped at the hands of a sadistic customer.  (D, of course, makes a last minute rescue, but the ick factor is extremely high.)  Miska is captured by de Carriole for the horrific weapon dwelling inside her.  This leaves D operating with limited assistance for most of the many battles in this volume.  
 
The plot, such as it is, seems to spin in circles.  Characters dart back and forth across town, while scenery blows up in spectacular fashion.  With very few moments of quiet to sit and formulate a plan that might actually succeed, D rushes in and throws himself into the conflict again and again.  He goes so far as to team up with Lagoon, even after what he did to May.  (Inexplicably, May goes along with this!)  There’s a surprise return of one of the assassins from the last novel, who manages to act as the catalyst for a massive duel, which proves to be one of the more interesting parts of this volume.  
 
The author continues to throw challenges at D until nothing shocks or surprises anymore.  After all, D is a unique and special snowflake in the author’s eye; it wouldn’t do to have anyone else be as charming or deadly as him.  The final battle seems almost a let down after all of the completely ridiculous action taking place throughout the rest of the four-part story.  It’s a race to the final few pages, where a hard won victory is briefly shared with the survivors of the conflict, some of whom seem to survive just to offset the bleak horror of the whole situation.  Pyrrhic it is.
 
In Summary
The goal of the Pale Fallen Angel storyline seems to have been “throw as much cool action in as possible,” even if it makes absolutely no sense.  Full of excess and shallow on plot, it carries on in a destructive temper tantrum of over-the-top battles with a smattering of lurid sexual distractions.  Sure, this is pulp literature, probably exactly what the audience has come for.  Even so, the purple prose could have been cut down and there should have been more showing and less telling.  A tighter focus and far less running around could have elevated the story beyond a mess of cool action scenes into a more engaging action-adventure pulp title.  Still, if you’ve read the novels this far you know what you’ve gotten yourself into.  The rest of us might want to wait for an animated version of these events, should that ever occur.  


Mania Grade: C-
Art Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Dark Horse
MSRP: 14.95
Pages: 480
ISBN: 978-1595821317
Size: B6
Orientation: Left to Right
Series: Vampire Hunter D (novels)