Always good to hold down a day job.
Hiya folks. I’m here today with the inaugural post of the new segment Comic Tracker. This is the segment where I take a comic book, read a single issues/book/tpb etc. and make a judgement about whether there is a point to continue reading this series. If you want a more detailed explanation about this segment, check out my explanation here: Introducing “Comic Tracker”.
Today’s comic is the first trade paperback for the BOOM! Studios comic, Day Men. Day Men comes to us from the writing team of Matt Gagnon (who?) and Michael Alan Nelson (wha?) and artist Brain Stelfreeze (whoooooo?). Just kidding, I barely know any of the guys nowadays. However, apparently Stelfreeze did work on a bunch of the late 90’s and early 2000’s Batman and Batman-related comics like Birds of Prey and Nightwing, which is kinda cool, and is something that I thought I would have noticed. But I didn’t. Oh well.
Anyways, back to Day Men. In Day Men, we are shown a world where aristocratic vampire families exist. Since they’re vampires, they can’t come out during the day to do stuff, so they hire humans to do the dirty work they need done during day time. These humans are aptly named “Day Men”. We follow David Reid, Day Man for the Virgo family, as he tries to get used to his highly important, sensitive and dangerous position as a human fighting for incredibly powerful and seductive supernatural beings.
This book contains the first 4 issues. We go from brief introductions of the world and main characters right into the complicated vampire family conspiracy plot with stolen fangs, murdered corpses, strange ritualistic things and lots of blood and obscured nudity. You kinda have to hand it to this comic, it knows EXACTLY what it is. It’s a 2 TPB, 8 issue limited series, meant to get from beginning to end at a breakneck pace. It doesn’t have to do too much, but it just needs to appeal to the right senses while not completely obscuring the story line. The mythos of the vampire world is established to the bare minimum to keep the plot moving forward without too much exposition, so that we can get to more sexually charged bathroom scenes or split-second fighting scenes.
I can appreciate this at times, because more importantly than the book knowing what it is, I know what it is. I did not walk into this book thinking, “Well, this should be a good character study of the fish out water becoming the reliable but hopelessly outmatched member of a family where he doesn’t belong.” No, I had no illusions that this would be deep or meaningful, although I have no doubt that there will be some sort of exposition extolling some virtues to that effect, as if any meaningful amount of time was spent in establishing or furthering the more complicated characters.
I think we’ve established that there isn’t enough time to develop anything to the point where I can say that it was a rich experience rather than a quick read. So, to my mind the question about whether or not to continue reading is purely a matter of what I like to refer to as “flavor”, and in my case…
Oh, that’s my system by the way. I just write “Grade:” and either pass or fail. That’s how it works.
To my mind, this book acts like a typical action blockbuster flick. You are given a main character who is given just enough loose and interesting character arc possibilities (many of which will get no pay off) that you feel smart for just recognizing that they are established. David has a brief flash back (potential back story), makes ambiguous, and unbeknownst to him misguided, choices (potential exile from the group he feels bound to), has obvious unrequited attachment to this books equivalent of perfection (potential “she’s dead!” moment, for dramatic tension, and impetus for him to go Super Saiyan) and so on. And these are given just a flash of time each, not so much that we get some depth, but enough so that we get the gist, among the flurry of action and globe-trotting that takes place. The character as a well-developed study of his ideas is less important than the character as his presentation and the events that occur around him. And in this case it’s fine because it’s mindless fun. So, pass.
Perhaps a more simpler way of putting this review is that there is only one more book (4 issues) to read, so why would I quit now if I didn’t absolutely hate it? It was alright, and I enjoyed the flavor, art and design. The story and character, things that allow me to distinguish my person favorite works of all media, are not really a problem in this case, because this isn’t vying for a spot in my favorites. Not even close. It’s just trying to be entertaining and fun and, most of all, cool. To my mind, it achieves that much, and so I give it props.
Alright guys, leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading and have a great day!