Writer: Ram V
Art: Sumit Kumar
Publisher: Vault Comics
This review only covers the 4th issue and contains mild-to-moderate SPOILERS. For more information on what the overall story is about, read my review of issues 1-3.
WHAT IS IT?
A epic vampire story that takes place in India in the mid-1700s.
With many characters, the story weaves an intricate web of war, romance, and the illusion of choice, like Interview With The Vampire mixed with Bioshock 3.
At the same time, These Savage Shores is so much more, tackling the human condition and the question of what it truly means to be "human" or a "monster."
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
(Moderate Spoilers for Previous Issues)
Betrayed by the allies he thought he could rely on, Bishan must die as a man or become the monster he has tried so hard to forget and ignore. But even if he survives, he is a long way from home, and the man who betrayed him and his soldiers is so much closer...
In Vikrampura, the young Prince holds Sturn, the British vampire hunter, prisoner. Count Grano (pictured above), has brought a small army to India to avenge the death of Alain Pierrefont, one of the vampires in his charge. Along with the Prince and Kori, Bishan's lover, Sturn devises a plan to repel or kill the invading vampires.
But how can they hope to survive without Bishan there to protect them? And even if he were there, would he be able to win against a vampire who may be just as ancient, if not moreso?
The contrast between the end of the previous issue, where Bishan is dying as a man, and the beginning of this issue, shown below, speaks volumes through its juxtaposition without using a single word.
The letter from the Prince, in their pink captions, makes you think the letter might be from Kori until you realizes it isn't. This is the second time Aditya Bidikar (but also Sumit Kumar) made me wonder who the letter was coming from. I think it's an interesting effect, gaining context for the letter only when it reaches its end, making you wonder at its meaning depending on who you think is writing it.
Astone colors so much of this issue as either purple or yellow, two contrasting colors. The yellow, contrasting with Bishan's purple skin, feels like death and decay on the battlefield, but more warmer, even protective when indoors. But the purple, taking up almost the entirety of the issue, feels portentous.
As always with Sumit Kumar's line art, especially when combined with Astone's colors, every panel is a work of art. It's surprising to see them in a comic book, rather than hanging on a museum wall.
Potential foreshadowing in the scene with the lightning and the tree that marked the area Kori and Bishan would meet, that Bishan compared himself to in the past
There's a good balance of action and story and building tension, making for one issue that's over way too fast.
Adrian F. Wassel, editor-in-chief of Vault, makes his return as a vampire in this issue and plays the part beautifully.
There are other moments in here I'd love to talk about, but they'd be total spoilers, so just know there's a lot more to gush about in this issue.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Ram V will break your heart.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
These Savage Shores breathes new life into the vampire tale. Like the vampires within, the story and the art feel dangerous and powerful under the elegant beauty of the art and prose.
So much of These Savage Shores examines what makes us human and what makes us a monster, as well as the power of choice in relation to that. Some choices feel like no choice at all: death or survival. Others are less so, like taking revenge. The choices themselves also have a degree component to them; "survival by any means necessary" has the potential to harm more people than surviving with intent to limit the damage caused to others.
It's an absolutely fascinating examination of the human condition. I highly recommend this title not only to fans of vampires, but to fans of stories they can study and sink their teeth into.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Paradiso, Vol. 1 by Ram V & Devmalya Pramanik
Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
Manifest Destiny, Vol. 1 by Matthew Roberts & Chris Dingess
If you like the art:
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Ram V – Writer
Moniker: His real name is Ram Venkatesan
Outlander: Originally from Mumbai, India, he now lives in London
Is part of a group of London comic book writers and artists called the White Noise Collective
Sumit Kumar – Artist
Multitalented: Also writes and colors comics
In his writing and art, he tries not to adhere to a singular style
Outlander: Hails from New Delhi, India
Vittorio Astone – Colorist
Outlander: Freelance comic artist & colorist from Rome
Opinion: His colors in this remind me a lot of Jordie Bellaire's in Moon Knight and Injection
Aditya Bidikar – Letterer
Multitalented: Co-hosts a comics podcast with fellow letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, called Letters & Lines
Dream Team: Also worked with Ram V on Black Mumba & Paradiso
Sometimes hosts a #LettererJam event on Twitter where letters all show their different approaches to a single page of comic book art
Adrian F. Wassel – Editor
Name Recognition: Is the CCO & Editor In Chief of Vault Comics, and edits Vault's titles
Also runs Vault with his brother and father
Seems to work very closely and intensely with comic creators when developing stories
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Issue #4 should drop May 8th. Click one of these to pre-order it:
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