Thursday, 8 September 2016

30 Days Of Night: Return to Barrow (#1-6)

"Some things can be lost and found again... but a thing like what happened in don't forget that" - Brian Kitka

The third 30 Days of Night miniseries, collected in the first omnibus sees the vampires return to target the Alaskan Town of Barrow which experiences the titular 30 Days of Night each winter.  In the original miniseries some vampires led by one called Marlow attack the town regarding it as prime feeding time.  However an elder vampire called Vicente arrives and kills Marlow for drawing attention to the existence of vampires.  He orders the human survivors killed and the town burned to cover it up.  Sheriff Eben Olemaun injects himself with vampire blood and keeps his mind long enough to kill Vincente.  He turns to ash as he sits with his wife Stella Olemaun as the sun rises after their month of hell.  In the second miniseries, Stella Olemaun has become quite the vampire hunter, researching and publishing a book on the events that saw the death of so many in Barrow.  But she is wounded and grieving her loss of Eben, and hooks up with a "good" vampire called Dane who was sired by Marlow but has kept his humanity.  Eben's ashes are stolen by a vampire working for Vincente's lover Lilith, and when Dane tells Stella his ashes might be able to revive Eben, Stella gladly trades all the proof she has of the existence of vampires for the ashes, although she blows Lilith and her minions the hell up afterwards.  Dane leaves her somewhat sadly and using her blood she mixes it with Eben's ashes and he revives.  The miniseries ended with her hugging him and him about to sink his teeth into her.  What happens next?  Find out in this mini, still written by Peter Niles and with Ben Templesmith still on art duties.

We begin with an introduction to our P.O.V character for this mini, a man called Brian Kitka who is the brother of William Kitka a Barrow resident who died in the vampire seige on the town, now three years in the past.  It seems the authorities have put out a story that implies the residents went mad, murdered each other and tried to cover it up with fire, as well as playing down the number of dead.  Brian knows his brother was no murderer and has come back to the town to take up the vacant post of Sheriff along with his young son.  Initially unsure if vampires were the reason things went down in Barrow, he gets a crash course in them during his first couple of days on the job as vampires from all over converge on the town out of a sense of revenge.  As they arrive at their new home, Brian thinks to himself:

Brian: "I am going to find out what happened. Clear his name, and bring some sanity back to Barrow."

His son Marcus is very excited by their new house which to him is huge.  Obviously property prices in Barrow are very low which is how Brian could afford it.  Then he reports to the Sheriff's Office in town, the deputy says she hadn't been informed of them getting a new sheriff, Brian is irrtated and yells at her.
Brian and his son Marcus.
His deputy scowls and says if Brian is going to be rude he'll need to find a new deputy.  Brian apologises saying he can't believe his transfer papers didn't come through yet. Then his deputy grins and says "I was just fucking with you. They came last week".  Brian smiles as well and they shake hands as she introduces herself as Donna Sikorski.  She says she knew his brother and his family and they were "good people."  Brian asks if she was here when "it" happened.  She says she was but folks have "learned to keep our mouths shut about it."  And she gently but firmly shuts down further probing of her from Brian about it.

Now in uniform and with his badge he goes outside and bumps into a hunter called John Ikos, who's brother Brian knew.  John reaffirms the view that Brian's brother was a good guy who sometimes came hunting with him. They are silent for a moment, then Brian asks him outright if "it" happened.  John replies, "Yes, it happened".  Then he calls out Donna and demands she hand over William Kitka's journal of the events of the vampire attack.  He tells Donna that Brian deserves to know the truth of what happened from his brother's own words.
John fills Brian in on their Sheriff woes.
As Brian goes off to read the journal alone, John comments to Donna that Brian needs to be prepared and informed.  He's already caught and killed a couple of advanced vampire scouts already.

John: "Let's hope the new sheriff plays ball... if he does, great.  If he doesn't.  Fuck him".

Then he tells Donna to lock her doors and windows but give him a call if she gets cold and lonely.   She gives him the finger affectionately.

Back with Marcus, a black cat appears in the house. It's a friendly kitty and leads Marcus upstairs and into a room where a bridal gown is one display.  There are assorted books of reports, Marcus hunts through them and finds a book of wedding photos.  He opens it to find a picture of the happy bride and groom, Stella and Eben Olemaun.  It's their house he and his dad are now living in.
Stella and Eben in happier, non-dead, times.
We cut to New Orleans.  Corrupt vampire FBI Agent Norris from the previous mini is calling upon a colleague of Judith, the woman who gathered video evidence of the attack on Barrow and whom he killed for it, but not before she had passed it onto Stella (who traded it for Eben's ashes anyway). Norris forces his way in, knocks out the man who is called George and who is a junkie then ties him up and waits for him to come to.

When George does so, Norris says he needs to know everything George knows about vampires. He wants to know how much humans know about them.  He threatens to destroy George's stash if he doesn't talk.

Norris: "I have all eternity George... how long do you think you'll last?"

Meanwhile in Barrow, Brian is reading his brother's chronicle of the events in Barrow.  It's heartbreaking stuff as it gets more and more apocalyptic and emotive, heavily implying he committed murder/suicide to prevent him and his family ending up as vampire chow, finally ending with the words to Brian, "if you come back to Barrow...know that there is evil in the darkness".
"Evil in the darkness" indeed.
As Brian finishes reading a figure approaches him.  Before he can register it as a threat it attacks, but John comes up behind it and headshots it saving Brian in the process. "You are having one shit-ass day aren't you?" John says sardonically.  He assumes now Brian knows the truth he'll be leaving.  Brian says he won't run.  They examine the corpse, Brian asks if it was really one of them.  John says it's hard to tell what with it missing a head and all.

Brian returns to his new home and speaks with Marcus who is excited and telling him the house belonged to the lady who wrote the book and her husband who died saving the town.  Brian still thinks it's probably "horseshit" and asks Marcus if he wants to leave.  He says the whole town feels "off" and they can be on a flight to Anchorage that evening.  Marcus decides he does want to go. But the last flight has gone so Brian and Marcus are stuck in Barrow now until the sun comes up.

Back in New Orleans, Norris is still questioning George who keeps pathetically begging for a fix.   Irritated beyond reason, Norris bites George and turns him into a vampire.  Then he questions him again.

George: "They have safe houses all over the world and a network connected by a common need to survive".

Norris asks him how he feels about these humans now, "I feel a common foe" says vampire George, "I feel them thinking about us."  Norris says it's time to silence the voices.  Do you feel the pull he asks George?  "Yesssss" George responds. "Looks like we have a long night ahead of us George" says Norris.
Agen Norris vamps George.
We then join a pair of vampires on their way up to Barrow, called Liam and Darcy.  Dane, the good vampire from the previous mini leaps out at them and introduces himself to them.  They ask if he is the same Dane who escaped the immolation of Lilith's group?  He affirms that he is, and the two vampires ask him if it was true that the lady who wrote the "30 Days of Night" book was responsible?  Dane says he saw no woman there, he lies and says it believes it was one clan of vampires who wanted to wipe out their elders. "To tell the truth I'm getting tired of all the killing" he tells them.

They ask if he is heading for "the feeding".  Dane is not, he doesn't even know what feeding they are talking about. When they say they are going to Barrow to destroy the town once and for all, Dane says the town should be left alone, "we failed once. Why try again?" Liam says it's a chance for redemption.

Dane: "How would another attack redeem us?  We should walk away and let the memories fade."

Liam offers him a cup of blood and says the memories don't fade. Humanity is fighting back thanks to the book and they are finding no place is safe for them now. "We all live in fear Dane" says Liam. Barrow has to pay with blood.
Dane hooks up with Liam and Darcy.
Back in Barrow it's special delivery time.  A man arrives with a car full of assault weaponry which causes Brian to freak out a little. John says he can feel free to arrest the whole town when the sun comes up and is disappointed that Brian still doesn't seem to realise the threat they are living under. Brian gets mad at him for sassing him in front of his son and pushes him up against the car, but deputy Donna intervenes saying she wants to show Brian their "winter security".  Then she introduces him and his son to the rest of the town gathered there, they all greet Brian and Marcus warmly.

The man who drove up introduces a girl called Iris, who excuses herself to find a ladies room.  But when he admits he only met her on the way up on his way back to Barrow the penny drops and Donna blows a whistle to alert the town they have a vampire in their midst.  They form smaller armed groups and go searching for her.  The winter floodlights are turned on as well, they broadcast UV light which hurts vampires badly.

The vampire girl sneaks around then suddenly a dark shape descends on her. As Brian's group search, John advises him to get Marcus into a safe room, the Olemaun place has a basement he should be safe in. Brian and John bond as John tells him the vampires appear this time every year, some people leave Barrow, most people stay and fight. Brian says John must have seen it all, John affirms he has.  Then they find the vampire girl's body, her head ripped clean off.  John remarks, "...this is new."
She has no head.
Agent Norris and George meet up with a group of vampires led by one called Werner who is directing the attack on Barrow. Werner welcomes Norris to "the war" when he realises how useful he can be. Werner says this year no one gets out of Barrow alive.  Then a vampire called Greta runs up to him telling him to come see something. They hurry over and find the corpses of Liam and Darcy with their heads and limbs ripped off and Dane slumped against a tree nearby. Dane mumbles that they didn't deserve to be killed.

Werner impatiently asks what happened and Dane says they were attacked. He didn't see who did it, just two blurs and then his travelling companions were dead. Dane doesn't know why he was spared.   Norris whispers in his ear, "I can smell the Olemaun woman on you."  Before things can escalate, Werner tells them both to stand down. Dane says he's told them everything he knows and Werner accepts this despite Norris's protests that Dane knows more than he is saying.  Werner initiates the attack on Barrow.

Inside Barrow which is defended by the UV lights and a fence all round it, guards are scanning for signs of attack.  Suddenly the vampires attack and this time they have guns as well and they collapse one of the light towers.  The vampires charge in and a firefight ensues between them and the townsfolk. "Hold the line!" yells John as they fire back.
The vampires go all out on Barrow.
Brian is securing Marcus in the Olemaun house basement, he tells Marcus to keep the door locked and only open it for him.  Then he leaves to go join the fight, "I'll be back. I promise" he tells his son. Brian goes and mans the ground mounted minigun and blows the frontline of the vampires to pieces, they retreat for the moment to regroup and try again.  Brian wonders why the residents of Barrow don't call for help.

John: "We call for help every year.  But help never comes. They don't believe us.  Shit would you?"

Well Brian is a believer now. John says he's sorry he's having such a baptism of fire especially as he has a young son.  But he's glad Brian is there to help them now.  Brian says they'll make it so the vampires wish they had never come to Barrow.

Back with the vampires, they consider the fact they took out one generator as indicative of a coming victory.  Norris whispers about Dane behind his back saying he gives him the creeps and he thinks he has something to do with his Sire Lilith's death.  George says Stella had a vampire accomplice who she took as her lover.  "What?" says Norris flatly.
Norris murders Dane.
He then goes and confronts Dane and demands to know what it was like to have a human woman. Dane denies knowing what he is talking about. Norris blasts his head off at point-blank range with his gun.  He says Dane was a "human sympathiser" and that something odd is going on right now.  Meanwhile Brian and John are hunkered down in a bunker discussing the situation:

Brian: "So you got any pearls of wisdom for me?"

John: "There's only one thing you gotta remember... nothing lives without a head."

The vampires stand some way away, Norris asks if he can make a suggestion to Werner.  We don't hear it as we return to Brian and John as John watches them through binoculars speculating they are coming up with a new plan of attack now their "weapon surprise" didn't overwhelm the town like they expected.
Defending the town.
Suddenly the whole group of vampires vanish, freaking John and Brian out who then retreat back into town.  Brian says he thinks the vampires are freaking out as much as they are and this calms John down.  Brian says they are trying to keep them off balance but obviously lack leadership.

Brian: "Let's make sure they get what they deserve when they get here... for our brothers".

John: "For our fallen brothers".

And they shake hands. They go to the boot of the car with the weapons and Brian takes out a grenade.  Two other residents go to the damaged light tower to see how repairs are coming along and then the vampires rush them. They manage to kill Greta much to the distress of Werner but are killed before back-up can arrive.  Werner picks up Kenny's (one of the dead men) radio and tells John over it that Kenny is dead.  John demands to know who he is speaking to:

Werner: "I am a friend of the many that you have murdered. And I will have my vengeance."

And he cuts John off in the middle of an expletive.  Two more residents guarding a generator are killed by vampires.  The vampires are attacking from all sides now.  Brian and John try to direct the defences where they will be most effective.  Brian says they are splitting into groups, putting holes in the perimetre and he's not sure they can hold them off now.  Brian, John and Donna man the mounted minigun and prepare to repel the horde as best they can.

Norris meanwhile is going solo with an attack on the Olemaun house.  As he steps inside, Brian, Donna and John keep blasting the crap out of the vampires.  Norris ventures further into the house, calling out to anyone there.  Marcus shivers in the basement and doesn't respond. 

He breaks into the basement and Marcus cowers in fear and then.. something happens to Norris.  Someone whispers in his ear "Hello agent Norris. Goodbye agent Norris" and all we see next is a close up of Marcus holding the black cat and watching the events unfold off-panel.
Marcus and Kitty witness the end of Norris.
As the vampires close in on Brian, John and Donna, Brian says Marcus's name and seems to resign himself to death.  Then there is a blur, and every vampire that was surrounding him has been reduced to bloody smears on the snow.  Too concerned with Marcus's situation, Brian just runs to the Olemaun house to check on him.  He finds Marcus, the cat and the remains of Norris, he hugs Marcus who is somewhat upbeat.

Marcus: "The lady helped us."

John: "Yeah? What lady?"

Marcus: "The lady in the picture we found in the attic."

STELLAAAA!  She survived her vamping by Eben it seems but what about him?  Anyway before that question is answered we return to John and Donna.  Donna is out of ammo as is John and she is wounded.  Werner approaches to kill them and John flings his hunting knife at him and impales Werner right through the skull, killing him a second time.  Donna gives him a kiss, "didn't see that coming" says a chuffed John.

The remaining townsfolk report that the vampires are fleeing, they are being torn apart by things that move so fast they are a blur.  Brian and Marcus arrive and so to does Stella and Eben, the two now vampire lovers united for all eternity. Stella simply says:

Stella: "No one will ever hurt this town again. We will always be watching over you".

And she and Eben fade back into the night, the vampire threat over and Barrow having gained immortal protection, and with that this miniseries comes to an end.
Protection from beyond the grave.
Another superb story from a great writer and man do I wanna squee about Ben Templesmith's art.  He definitely up there with my all time faves.  I love his use of delicate inks with colour washes and imbues his art with a lot of range of motion that can often be lost in more static painted artwork.  I'm glad Stella got her happily ever after with the resurrected Eben, the idea of them united forever watching over the town they guarded as sheriffs in life is very romantic.  There's a nice bit of foreshadowing that Stella might be the one responsible for murderising the vampires converging on Barrow when she spared Dane.  I was sad to see him taken out the way he was by the revolting Norris, but Eben proves you can't keep a good vamp down so maybe we'll see him again I don't know, I haven't read the next omnibus yet, but will be covering the stories within once I get it.  Brian and John make a fun bickering couple with John's explanations to Brian being a good way of filling in readers who might not have read or don't recall the events of the first attack on Barrow.  In fact my only complaint is to these middle aged eyes, some of the fonts used are bloody hard to read, maybe I need specs.  Anyway, expect more 30 Days of Night in the months to come, it's building up a nice mythology and set of characters and still has plenty of places it can still go.  In summary then, come for the art, stay for the great story and characterisation.


  1. I'm all for a bargain, but I wonder how estate agents in Barrow spin things.

    "Handy for the shops; great local schools; plenty to do in the evenings...."

    The fact that some people choose to stay I find a bit incredible, everyone going on holiday at the appropriate time would seem an obvious way of solving the problem. (Have you seen the "shark in the pool" spoof trailer btw?).

    Then again, I can see a great business opportunity. You could appeal to the trophy hunter and mall ninja crowd. "Fancy 30 days of consequence free slaughter? Sign up now!". Hmm, now that's an idea.

  2. I haven't seen that particular spoof, I don't have sound on my PC right now (knackered audio socket) so can't appreciate clips and stuff right now.

    I think the fact people stay is a testament to sheer bloody mindedness. It seems to be a particularly Alaskan thing as well, the enviroment is already harsh, vampires are just an added annoyance. Though to be fair the story does say some do leave.

    It reminds me a bit of the videogame series "Dead Rising" where you can carve a bloody swathe through a mall or casino full of zombies, I could see a few videogamers signing up to you idea!

  3. I won't spoil it for you for when you're back sonic'd up; but it is very funny.

    I had a real life example of that "pesky zombies/vampires" thing when a friend first moved to Canada. She called me all excited "There's a bear in my garden!". She was about to call David Attenborough but when she spoke to the neighbours it was "bloody bears; here's the number for the bear control bloke"

    One cute thing was that when they catch the bears they have to put them on special diets cos they all have diabetes. "Right, this is salmon, you eat this. That's discarded McDonalds. No!"

    On a completely unrelated note, I sent you an email. I know you have to wait until there's a planetary conjunction and someone gives birth to a griffin before you can access AOL so no hurry, just to let you know. But to pester you further there's something else I wouldn't mind you taking a look at. It's a short story I wrote some time ago. Any objections if I zap that off, there's some bits I'd like your insight on?

  4. I'd be terrified of a bear in my garden, I've seen too many clips on You've Been Framed of bears pulling off car doors and eating the shopping on the back seat. Although you have reminded me of a documentary about them where they said something like there is no such thing as "too fat" for a bear.

    Ah, I really have to get into the habit of checking me emails regularly now I actually have ones I will want to read. I shall cast the runes and try and sign into AOL right now.

  5. I hope in those clips the bear gets the 250 quid; that only seems fair.

    As to my friend, she's really into animal rights so she's very much 'aww, they're more scared of you....'. She even did that whilst getting some selfies with alligators. When that Ghosbusters lass was getting harassed I checked out some of her comedy. She did a brilliant bit about white people getting eaten by animals with a punchline that still makes me giggle:

    "They're not called kitchen lions"

    But that's pretty much my mate.

  6. It would probably just eat the money, they're pretty extreme when it comes to being omnivorus. Now I am well into animal rights myself, but I used to get nervous when there was a badger in the back garden of one place I used to live. I feel much safer now I have a yard. And a guard cat who is super territorial about "his" yard.

    Your mate sounds fun!

  7. She describes herself as my "future ex wife" which tells you a lot. She is fun though.

    (I did once have the wonderful experience of shouting "Remember, he's more scared of you" to a mate who was being chased by a bull)

  8. That's the same mate who once came out with a phrase that I'm determined to use in a story one day (for full effect imagine this in a Cornish accent)

    "Ere, what's that word where you're racist against gays?"

  9. Yes I recall being told "they're more scared of you" when being chased by a herd of angry sheep. Sheep for goodness sakes! Like I said I love most animals but out of fearful respect I think! Funnily enough birds don't freak me out at all. I'll gladly stand in the middle of a herd of geese hand feeding them. Or stroke a hunting owl and so on. Guess I am just weird.

    Ah the Cornish, I lived in Devon for a while and have family down there so have been visiting all my life as well, the rivalry between the two counties always amused a northerner like myself.

  10. you'd think the vampires would get the message by now! I'm glad Eben and Stella got their happy ending, it wasn't looking good for stella at the end of the previous story was it?

  11. I like to imagine there's one vampire who's pitched up in Barrow in Furness re-reading the email.

  12. @G: Yeah I'm a softy at heart, they get a miniseries of there own later too, though I haven't reached it yet in my readthrough of omnibus 2 where it is located.

    @Alan; LMAO! It must be left wondering why it was sent to such an inhospitable location :D

  13. I could swear I've seen art like this in a children's book. Less blood, obviously.

    Loving this comments thread.