Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lacking Depth, True Blood: Where Were You? Is Just Another Pointless Villain Story.

The Good: Generally good tie-in to the television show, Moments of concept
The Bad: Limits itself on language at the beginning, Vital elements are lost for the pretty dumb b-plot, Light on character, Poor artwork.
The Basics: For fans of True Blood, the graphic novel True Blood: Where Were You? underwhelms because it takes a decent story and puts it on a backburner to a pathetically standard comic book story.

As True Blood’s new season continues - the latest episode “You’re No Good” is reviewed here! - I have been doing my best to keep up and explore some of the other branches of the franchise. To that end, I have returned to reading and reviewing some of the graphic novels. I was actually surprised that I had only previously reviewed All Together Now (reviewed here!). The concept, however, of True Blood: Where Were You? instantly grabbed me. Unfortunately, the idea that True Blood: Where Were You? is sold on is very quickly undermined. Rather ridiculously, the b-plot that distracts from the main plot is not strong enough to carry the book, which leads to one of the most pointless final chapters in graphic novel history.

True Blood: Where Were You? is sold on the idea of providing a series of flashbacks to how people in the True Blood universe reacted to the vampires “coming out of the coffin.” That idea is a great one and had the book stuck to it and had compelling stories, it might have been a great book. Unfortunately, it does not.

Opening with Sookie trying her best to avoid the Coffin Day celebrations that are going on for the anniversary of the night the vampires revealed themselves publicly to the world, Sookie is summoned by Eric to Fangtasia to work for the night. She recalls the night the vampires came out of the coffin and how she was being persecuted by people at Merlotte’s who knew about her ability to read minds. While Sam tries to be nice to her, she is pretty much just shocked when the vampires reveal themselves to the world. Back in the present, she is shocked when a package is delivered to Fangtasia; the remains of one of Eric’s allies, Chow.

The book then bounces between Eric Northman and Bill Compton hunting down the ancient vampire Remus while they reflect back to how, during the days before the Great Revelation, they were involved with hunting Remus and the Sanguinistas on the orders of Nan Flanagan. Remus wants to lay waste to humans and now, on the anniversary of the Great Revelation, it seems like he is ready . . . but he wants to torment Eric first.

True Blood: Where Were You? continues to dilute the story with a somewhat pointless Alcide story that does not truly reflect on the character’s conflict with vampires. It’s just a cheap excuse to have Alcide in the book and tease the idea that there are romantic attachments between Sookie and all three of the book’s main men.

Fundamentally, there are two problems with True Blood: Where Were You?. The first is that Remus is not a terribly interesting villain (despite how authors Michael McMillian and Annie Nocenti try to tie him to the very popular Godrick). Remus is just another run-of-the-mill generic vampire adversary who has nothing distinctive going for him . . . save that he spent the 1980s as a punk rock singer, which is a marginally clever idea.

The other huge problem in True Blood: Where Were You? is the artwork. IDK seems to take a rather lazy approach to making the True Blood comics look good. When panels and pages have Pam and Sookie together, but it is hard to tell which is which or Eric and Nan Flanagan being virtually interchangeable or Alcide and Sam looking alike (only because Alcide wears a shirt in this book), it is annoyingly hard to follow the story. Fans deserve better.

Even though the character designs are sloppy and the book has a very low sense of movement, the coloring in True Blood: Where Were You? is decent. The colors are rich and have decent depth and shading.

It is, however, not nearly enough to make True Blood: Where Were You? worth reading. This is a book that never quite lives up to its original potential.

For other media tie-in graphic novels, please visit my reviews of:
Man Of Steel: The Prequel
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon - Foundation
Serenity: Better Days And Other Stories


For other book reviews, please visit my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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