What if instead of being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker was bitten by a vampire? Would he still conclude that with great power comes great responsibility and use his newfound abilities to help others? Or would he follow another path? That’s the basic high-concept of this latest Netflix-created comic by Mark Millar.
Taking place in Philadelphia, Danny Garcia, an underachieving teenager who gets the bright idea one day to film a dangerous stunt on his bicycle in hopes of going viral on Youtube. The stunt goes wrong and ends up in the hospital with a broken neck and broken back. That’s where police detective Nick Laskaras comes in. He’s a vampire, who bites Danny to turn him into a vampire too, and whisks Danny off to let him recover and then explain the reality of his new situation, which includes teaching him how to use all of his new abilities.
The next several pages have Nick taking Danny through the city at night, where Danny experiences heightened senses of sight and sound, can mentally control rats, he’s got super-strength, can climb walls like Spider-Man, and can turn into mists and bats. Nick warns him of his weaknesses, which includes sunlight and stakes. Nick is vague about his motivations for turning Danny, just mentions that he’s “building an army” for some purpose, and since he doesn’t want to take away anyone’s life, he chooses from among the sick and dying, as this gives them another chance. In Danny’s case, I guess being a vampire beats being parapalygic. The story ends with Danny returning to his high school friends, telling them they’re going to make a fortune.
It’s a good first issue. Sometimes it’s hard not to see these new Millar books through the lends of his deal with Netflix, where everything he creates now is basically R&D for new films of series. Danny is a relatable Hispanic teen, his two best friends in the book Sam, a chubby Black boy, and Amy, a nerdy Asian girl (who Sam has a secret crush on), giving this title a nice naturally diverse cast that I can picture on screen, not to mention the various “action” scenes should look cool too. So I can’t fault the execution of the story.
The only thing that drags this issue down a bit is the art. Juanan Ramirez’ work comes off as rather amateurish here, and the dull colors (by Fabiana Macolo) don’t help. That’s been a problem in several of Millar’s Netflix books, at least when he working for himself he made sure he picked the best artists he could, but I guess he doesn’t always have that option now and takes whomever Netflix has available. It’s still an enjoyable first issue (and at only $1.99, quite a deal), but a better artist could have turned this good comic-book into a great comic-book.