Monday, October 12, 2009

VLAD THE IMPALER by Jacobson & Colon

I don’t read many graphic novels. I enjoy the occasional Spider Man, and the odd post-apocalyptic series—The Walking Dead, although the dialogue has become depressingly poor at best, and a little Jonah Hex. But my fiction taste trends toward prose rather than graphic and I usually try to keep it that way for the simple reason that a novel lasts longer and costs less.

I received a graphic novel in the mail for review (it happens, why?, I don’t know) and I was pleasantly surprised—surprised that it was sent, and also surprised at how enjoyable it was. I opened it late this past Saturday and finished it in one sitting. I had intended to go through the first several pages, but the story captured me and I shuffled through the entire book—all 115 pages of it.

The title: Vlad the Impaler; written by Sid Jacobson and artwork created by Ernie Colon. It is a historical piece about Vlad Dracula. A fifteenth century prince of Wallachia—Southern Romania—known for his brutal and cruel reign; he was called “the Impaler” because of his propensity to impale his enemies and showcase the victims to the public.

Vlad Dracula’s modern legend is one that is much more literary than factual. His name was borrowed by Bram Stoker for his legendary vampire Dracula; probably a case of the man more evil than his literary counterpart. Vlad sat upon the throne of Wallachia no less than three times. As a boy he was a captive of the Ottoman Empire and as an adult his overriding concern was power.

Vlad the Impaler covers the terrain of Vlad’s life with a powerful simplicity. He is portrayed as a monster. The language is simple and the dialogue competent. The artwork runs from colorful and bold to dark and muted depending on the deeds of the characters.

Vlad Dracula is neither antagonist nor protagonist. He is simply the story, and the people around him—a faithful friend and advisor, a wife, a brother—serve as the humanity. He is a monster filled with rage, lust, hatred, and paranoia. A man with great boldness, but a man burdened with a lack of decency.

Vlad the Impaler is a disturbing yet intriguing story. It only grazes the man’s life, but it is startling. It tells a story of barbarity, love, faith, and betrayal. It is told with style, but it creates more questions than it answers. It is a story that will entertain, but also lead the reader into a deeper survey of a man whose name is known, but who—as a man—is mostly unknown.

No comments: