Dark Shadows #5 is very entertaining. In a lot of ways. You can take it seriously or not, but either way you’re going to enjoy it. It seems that main character Barnabas Collins doesn’t really WANT to be a vampire, which is interesting. I’m not an expert on vampires, but usually once people turn into them, they really seem to enjoy it.
Series writer Mike Raicht turns out a interesting story for this issue. While it’s fun for us, the reader, it’s no fun for any of the characters involved. There are a lot of what some people would call “soap opera” elements to comic story telling, but this title is a STRAIGHT-OUT soap opera, just with horror theme to it. It’s really nice to read a comic once in a while where there are NO super powers, no fights or super weapons, just good, solid drama and that’s what this comic is. Sure, there’s a vampire element to it, but Raicht really gets the reader invested in Barnabas Collins the MAN, not Barnabas Collins the VAMPIRE.
There are some pretty intense scenes in this book, and they are really well written. Most enjoyable, in my opinion, is the constant underlying mystery that runs throughout the book. It gives the book a great atmosphere and a sense of good old “anything can happen” feel.
Artist Guiu Vilanova really has a talent for drawing this type of book. There’s no over the top gore, but his art gives the book a real old-fashioned “scary” look to it. A lot of scenes take place at night or by candlelight, but you never get panels that are too dark or ones that you can’t make out what’s going on. For a book set in 1971, I was surprised that he didn’t fall into the standard trap of putting bell-bottoms on everyone, lava lamps in every bedroom, or Farah Fawcett type hair on every woman. The style of the characters in the book is timeless, and except for the lack of technology, this book looks like it could be set in current day.
I’m not familiar with the Dark Shadows television show but after reading this issue, I’d be willing to watch an episode or two. I’m guessing the show is at least somewhat like this comic, and I enjoyed it, so I’m going to assume that I’ll like the show. As far as the comic goes, it’s a good solid read. And most importantly, it’s something different. I would have no problem recommending this book to anyone.