Impaler starts with an interesting premise: What if vampires weren’t evil, inhuman monsters? What if they were just a disease that fed on humanity? Deadly, but not evil; more like the Ebola virus than like hunting predators. It would have been interesting to see how this worked out. Sadly, it is clear from the get go that this is not what happens in Impaler. The vampires act unnecessarily cruelly, far more than any virus or natural predator would. They pretty clearly hate humanity and revel in being malicious and evil.
That said, if you take the book as a more standard vampire comic, it functions really well. It starts off slowly, but builds quickly from the small scale horror of shadowy masses of vampires suddenly attacking people to the much larger, almost post-apocalyptic feel of an almost totally deserted New York City, thanks to a large snowstorm that provides enough cover to allow the vampires to work during the day. Despite the speed at which the story goes, it manages not to feel too rushed and ends on a suitably satisfying cliffhanger.
In an age where vampires are usually played as good guys or at worst morally ambiguous, it’s quite satisfying to read a title where they’re totally, irredeemably evil for a change. It also throws the reader for a loop when the only person who knows how to truly deal with the vampires is the immortal Vlad the Impaler himself. It’s a refreshing twist on an old genre, even if not the one the writer originally set out for.
The art in the book fits the narrative to a tee. It has mostly dark colors and hard lines, which emphasizes horror tone and the otherworldly nature of the vampires as they’re mostly curvy shadows that stand out because of said curviness.
Due to the fact that this book deals with heavy, mature themes and seems to revel in fairly gory violence, as well as having a cliffhanger that may shock younger readers, I would strongly advise this book be kept in the adult section.
Impaler, vol. 1
by William Harms
Art by Nick Postic, Nick Marinkovitch, Francis Tsai
Image Comics, 2008