Saturday, 6 August 2016

30 Days Of Night: Dark Days (#1-6)

"I was lucky before.  I was happy." - Stella Olemaun

After the surprise success of the Peter Niles penned and Ben Templesmith drawn 30 Days of Night three part miniseries, we get the first in a long list of follow-up stories charting the adventures of various characters as a secret war is waged between vampires and the believers in them.  I looked at 30 Days of Night last month, but in a nutshell it told the story of an Alaskan town called Barrow which experiences a thirty day period between November the 17th and December the 18th when the sun does not rise.  A group of vampires took advantage of this and nearly wiped out the whole town.  However the sheriff Eben Olemaun injected himself with vampire blood and using his enhanced strength managed to keep his right mind long enough to defeat their leader then let himself turn to ash when the sun rose, his wife Stella staying with him until the end.  A mysterious woman in New Orleans called Judith sent her son Taylor to film the vampires, he was killed but not before transmitting video images of them to her.  This six issue miniseries picks up a year or so later (it was first published in 2003) and follows Stella Olemaun now a veteran vampire killer, promoting her book "30 Days of Night" which is an account of the incident at Barrow that has just been released to the general public.  Niles and Templesmith are both still on writing and art respectively so let's begin.
Stella (middle) and her crew.
It starts with a recap of Eben's death at sunrise, leaving Stella all alone. Then fast-forwards sixteen months to her saying good bye to his grave in Barrow, she's leaving to begin her book and lecture tour in LA promoting 30 Day's of Night.  She's found some true believers to act as body guards, Mike, Peter, David and Tina and once in LA before the first lecture is to take place she visits a weapon manufacturer who has made some sticky explosives to her exact specifications.  While Stella gives her guards a crash course in how to kill a vampire, one arrives on the scene having just killed the weapons dealer.

Vampire: "How about a personal demonstration bitch?  I heard what you did.  You think you can kill me?"

Stella tells her guards to be calm and work like the drills, "Stand your guard.  Back me up and don't talk to it."  She sticks a bomb to the vampire and blows it practically in half then finishes it off with a shotgun blast to the head.
Stella is NOT to be fucked with!
Later at her first lecture she tells the audience that the attackers that took out Barrow were vampires.  When there is laughter, she says she expected that reaction but she knows that vampires won't have been able to resist coming tonight.  Around the hall are UV lights they use in Barrow to replace the vitamin D they lose when there is no sunlight. 

These lights are harmful to vampires, so please could any in the audience make themselves known. Slowly several vampires stand up and bare their fangs.

Stella: "Looks like we got a better turnout than we planned.  Hit the lights".

Up in Barrow a female vampire called Yuki is on the phone to one called Dane.  She says she has a boxful of something he wants and she'll be travelling back down to LA asap. 
Vampires storm the lecture hall.
In the lecture hall, Dane is watching from the sidelines and says over the phone he found the Barrow woman and that she is antagonising the vampires.  If she wants a fight he'll give her one and they clash.  The lecture hall turns into chaos until the police arrive and break it up.

At the station Stella sticks to her story that it was vampires she was fighting.  The cops say it was a publicity stunt albeit one with bullets and explosives, though one of the cops is more inclined to believe her the other says going along with Stella's story would make them laughing stocks.  No one in the audience wants to press charges so they let Stella and the others go.

They return to the hotel but get some bad news.  Stella has been sent a copy of 30 Days of Night and to her distress it's been labeled "fiction".  This throws her into despair, compounded when a TV news report on the kerfuffle at the lecture hall doesn't mention vampires.  Her team try and comfort Stella saying at least the story is out there and the vampires know it.

Then Judith knocks on the door.  They let her in and she introduces herself as the mother of the man who died in the helicopter recording film footage of the vampire attack on Barrow.  Stella says there was nothing they could do to help him then they both embrace.
Judith and Stella meet for the first time.
Stella and Judith talk.  Judith says she has spent a quarter of her life gathering information on the vampires.  Stella says if they can get the world's governements or even law enforcement agencies to believe them they could "wipe them out in no time."

Judith asks why write the book.  Stella says she was impatient and fed up about not being believed about what happened in Barrow.  What they need now is solid proof.  Judith says she has that proof and shows her a disc with the video footage her son filmed on it.  She says Stella and her friends need to stop baiting the vampires. Then someone calls Stella and tells her Ebens grave was vanadalised.  Stella says she expected something like that.  As she and Judtih talk they are being monitored by an FBI agent through infra red binoculars.
We then cut to Norway, a female elder vampire is being shown a copy of the 30 Days of Night book.  She says so this is the wife of the man who killed her husband, "and is spreading terror throughout the ranks of the undead?"  She then says it is time to get her revenge for Vicente's (the vampire Eben killed in the first story) death.

Stella wakes from a nightmare and has another chat with Judith who notes she doesn't seem very comfortable with herself.  Judith says she can be happy again.  They are out on the balcony and Stella tells Judith to slowly look round, a vampire is watching them. "Never seen one before have you?" says Stella.  Judith replies "no".  Stella gives the vampire the finger and it scuttles off.

Stella: "It helps if you think about how sad they really are.  Believe me, they want to be dead."

Dane's friend Yuki arrives by plane from Alaska.  At the same airport a bunch of walking corpses come out of a plane arrived from Norway.  Yuki hears a voice in her head asking her what she is carrying, but she flees.
Liltih minndscrews Yuki.
Stella meanwhile has been told her lecture tour has been cancelled.  She is gutted, "everything is ruined... all our plans.. ruined."  Judith says they can still take her evidence to the authorities.  Stella says she needs time to think and sends the others apart from Judith back to the hotel.

Dane starts following them, Stella demands he turn and face them.  He attacks and she blows his hand off with a sticky bomb.  Before she can finish him off he says "Marlow..."  She demands to know what he means.

Dane: "You killed Marlow... He was my friend... he made me... he took care of me."

Stella says he has his information wrong, Marlow was killed by Vincente.  Realising he's been looking for revenge against the wrong person Dane says if she kills him she'll never know why her husband's grave was vandalised.

Stella lowers her gun and Dane continues.  He says there is a legend that vampires never truly die.  That with the ashes and the addition of some blood they can rise again.  When Stella realises this means she can get Eben back she allows Dane to leave when he says he'll get his ashes for her.
Judith and Stella out for a pleasant stroll.
Judith asks what the hell she is thinking, but Stella says if she could get her son back, "what would you have done?"  She leaves Judith alone and then the FBI man appears and introduces himself to Judith as agent Norris.

The elder vampire has a mental hold on Yuki.  She tells her that the plan was to revive Eben using his ashes and kill him again in front of Stella.  The elder vampire kills Yuki and keeps the ashes for herself to add to her revenge.

Norris is back with Judith in he hotel room.  He says there are parts of the FBI who deal with supernatural investigations and with proof they could mobilize against the creatures.  He asks for the evidence disc but Judith realises there is something "off" about him and picks up her gun saying "I'm afraid there's been a change of plan".  Then Norris shoots her in the head, takes the disc and flees, killing Peter as he goes.
Norris kills Judith.
The others give chase, and go after him in a car.  They run him off the road, and Stella gets the disc back from him and says to the elder vampire working through him:

Stella: "Your plan didn't work.  I have the proof.  I have everything I need to light the fuse that will lead to the systematic extinction of your entire bloodsucking race!"

The rest of the team are somewhat freaked out and when Dane arrives, Tina shoots him.  But when Stella tells them to stop attacking him, he has something they need, Mike and Tina quit.  Dane says Eben's ashes are with whoever killed him frind Yuki.

Dane: "The killer is one of the oldest vampires walking the earth and she is after you Stella Olemaun.  It was Vicente's wife Lilith".
Tina and Mike are both attacked by vampires, meanwhile Dane watches Stella sleep and David watches him.  He goes to patrol the perimeter and Stella wakes up, she and Dane chat.  She ask how he can control his thirst, "why are you different?"

Dane: "It changes you but you don't have to give in to everything. There are still choices to be made."

Stella apologies for blowing his hand off and asks if it hurt? He says of course it did, "I may not be the same man I was before I die and changed.  But I am still flesh and blood".  Stella asks if he is thinking of kissing her, he says he is  She takes her top off and says to him "come here."
Tina! Mike! Wise Fwom Your Gwave!
David stands guards while Stella and Dane go at it.  Then he is attacked by the newly vamped Tina and Mike and killed.  In their heads Lilith commands them to wreak mayhem on their reurn to her, "and bring fear back to the hearts of the living".  After their time together Stella is despairing again:

Stella: "How come my husband couldn't fight it?!  How come you're so fucking nice and all the others are like rabid dogs?! I just don't get it!  It doesn't make any fucking sense at all!"

Dane calms her down saying Eben did what he did to protect her.  She feels lost and doesn't know what to do next.  Dane says they still have the evidence disc they can put it in the right hands.  Stella is unsure why he'd want people to know vampires existed, he says maybe "the herd needs thinning."

Then a walking corpse thrall who used to be David appears and through him Lilith tells Stella to meet her at a nearby graveyard.  "But the traitor does not come" as David points at Dane.  Stella agrees and Lilith lets David go and Stella and Dane kill him for good.
And David is gone too.
Dane asks her how important it is she recover Eben's ashes.  She says "if what you told me is true.  Very."  Dane admits that he has never seen the resurrection tried, it's just an undead legend.  He tells Stella Lilith will kill her, Stella says she is still going and invites Dane to come along.

She arrives at the cemetary with Dane and Lilith's voice in her said says he was not to come.  She tells her to show themselves and they are suddenly surrounded by vampires who Stella and Dane easily dispatch.  They press on unil they find an old house on a hill, Lilith is waiting inside.  There are vampires all over, but do not attack:

Dane: "Your reputation preceedes you Stella Olemaun.  They are frightened of you.."

Stella: "They fucking better be."

She and Lilith come face-to-face.  Stella says she's not in the mood for that "B-grade gothic banter".  They do what they have come to do then go their seperate ways.
Lilith does a deal with Stella.
Lilith says she has the ashes of her husband but can Stella return Vicente to her.  Stella says even if she could, she wouldn't, "your husband was a murderer.  Eben was a hero".  Liltih then orders Dane be taken away and some vampire drag him off. 

More vampires approach Stella but she shows them her jacket is full of explosives she isn't afraid to use and they back off.

Lilith: "My husband Vicente was one of the oldest of the undead to have ever existed and his wisdom equalled his age."

Stella responds that her husband sacrificed his life to save innocent people her husband would have slaughtered.  Lilith says she begged Vicente not to go to Barrow, but he wanted to take the vampire youth a lesson:

Lilith: "Humans are a precious resource and not to be fed upon wholesale as humans feed on their prey."

"How fucking noble" says Stella.  Then they get down to business.  Stella hands over the evidence disc and promises to end her crusade on the undead in return for Eben's ashes.  Once this is done, she leaves and finds an unharmed Dane outside.  He asks her where her jacket is and she just smiles as the house and those inside are consumed in a massive explosion
Let me repeat, don't FUCK with Stella!
Dane asks if she wants to stay with him.  But she says she has to try and bring Eben back.  Dane says she doesn't know what will happen and she may find herself wishing he was there.  She thanks him for everything and as he walks off he says:

Dane: "I think I was falling in love with you, can you imagine that?"

She goes to a shady motel and takes out Eben's ashes and using a razor cuts her arms to drip blood onto them.  And it works.  Eben is resurrected.

Stella: "Let me look at you.  Let me look at your beautiful face.  I bought you back.  I bought you back."

She holds him repeating over and over that she loves him and he replies, "I love you too Stella and I always will" and the story comes to a close with his mouth gaping wide open ready to take a bite out of her neck...
Eben is back, but is he a baddy now?  To Be Continued...
This is an excellent follow-up to the original story, this time giving us a very female orientated narrative. Stella the vampire hunter with her team of protectors, combat tactics and psychological warfare is a cool way to reintroduce her in her doomed crusade to prove vampires exist.  She's obviously still very messed up and suffering from PTSD from the original Barrow attack and as her plans fall apart and she finds solace in a "good" vampire some shades of grey are given to her opponents who might not all be the evil she sees them as. Having the promise of getting Eben back dangled in front of her if she gives up her vampire hunting also shows how she has never really got over her loss of him if she is willing to have him back even as a vampire, but has she made a dreadful mistake?  You'll have to wait a month to find out in 30 Days Of Night: Return to Barrow.  Dane, the good vampire is very much in the vein of Angel from Buffy although he's more someone fighting a constant battle with himself than suffering the imposition of a guilty soul. It's a shame Judith was killed off, but with the way Stella's story was going it is hard to see how she'd go along with it all.  And Norris the FBI Agent shows us in this world vampires are everywhere even in law enforcement.  It goes without saying I love the Templesmith art, it's moody, gruesome and expressive and in tandem with Nile's tight scripting gives us a taunt vampire tale of love and loss and things blowing up real good.


  1. i've got to get that omnibus of this series.

  2. There's a second Omnibus avaliable as well which is on my shopping list. It does credit various other artists and writers than Niles and Templesmith so I don't know how good it'll be...

  3. Stella and Eben can both become vampires and have hot undead sex for the next 6,000 years. Also, you obvs have a crush on Templesmith.

  4. Have you read the next post I've written on this series?! Heh, I do like his art, is that SO wrong?