I always meant to check this book out, and some recent news about a controversy regarding the casting in an upcoming Harriet Tubman biopic sparked my interest in finally doing so. The premise is intriguing, and if Abraham Lincoln could be portayed as a Vampire Hunter in both a book and a film (not to mention as a fighter of zombies in another film), then why can’t Harriet Tubman be a slayer of demons in a comic-book?
Taking place in the year 1860, the book opens late at night at a slave plantation in Charleston, South Carolina. A slave family consisting of Ceaser, his wife Catherine, and their daughter Venus are attempted a daring escape. They sneak out and steal a horse and carriage and head out to the woods. But then they’re ambushed by three White men who are guards for the Plantation, Roger, Jeffrey, and Ace, and try to stop them. Ceaser and Catherine are prepared, though, and pull out guns and shoot all three men. And that’s where the fun begins.
The guards are turn out to be vampires, who are unaffected by the bullets. And as they proceed to threaten the slaves with death, Harriet Tubman arrives on the scenes, and dispatches of the vampires with a combination of martial arts skills and her trusty sword and a stake. But their troubles aren’t over yet. . .
First, I’ll say that the art, by Courtland Ellis, is fine. A little rough around the edges, but basically clean linework which makes everything easy to follow. He definitely shows promise, so I have no real complaints there. But when it comes to the story, by writer (and creator) David Crownson, I found that lacking.
First, the dialog often lacked a sense of urgency. These as slaves risking their lives by attempt to escape, yet, their attitude seemed rather casual. We get a sequence where the Venus laughs at Ceasar because he reveals that he was too scared to ever learn how to ride a horse. When the Catherine shows up with the horse and carriage, she and Ceaser pause to give each other a kiss. I don’t know, but I feel like under the circumstances they would be trying avoid wasting any time and just getting movie as quickly as possible. Likewise, when Tubman arrives on the scene, instead of just getting right to the point, she first tries to pretend she’s working for some other slave-trader and is there to buy the slaves. This is something that the vampires easily see through, as she didn’t even know the name of the slaves’ master, so what was the point? Just more wasted time. And there’s also the fact that the slaves didn’t seem to be anywhere near as shocked as they really should be by the discovery of the vampires.
And I guess, most egregiously, this is Tubman slaying vampires, not demons. Although I guess technically vampires could be considered demons? So was the title changed just to avoid direct comparions to the Abraham Lincoln book/film?
So what we end up with here is a well-drawn book with a decent premise but some flawed execution.