Writers: Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson
Artist: Brian Stelfreeze
Colorist: Darrin Moore
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Review by Eric Owens
Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson pull off a difficult task in Day Men adding something different to vampire stories. Instead of focusing on the bloodsuckers or those tasked with hunting them down, the new series centers on David Reid, a human in the employ of the Virgos, a powerful family of vampires. David’s work as a day man, as the title implies, involves taking care of the family’s business while they sleep. While this can include plenty of opportunities to kick ass, he also has a lot of less exciting jobs, like bribing a cop, delivering groceries to a family member’s “toy” human, cleaning up after messy feedings, and spending a lot of time taking care of the Virgos’ resident screw-up, Nybor.
David’s counterpart is fellow human, Casey Kennedy, who handles the family’s business and operations. Since this requires her to work nights at the Virgo family estate, she stops at his place on her way home to keep him updated and give him his orders for the day. In contrast with David, she’s been on the job for a while and is all business, much to the disappointment of the lustful lady vampire Kellen. This may be the first time in a vampire story that someone has talked about tax forms and credit card receipts.
This wouldn’t be a very exciting story if it were just about package deliveries and investment strategies. Fortunately, there’s plenty of action in the story – from David’s recovery of a set of stolen fangs, to the beginnings of what is likely the start of all-out war between the Virgos and the rival Ramses family. David’s job had its risks before, but now the fun is definitely over.
As expected for a debut, there’s plenty of information delivered in this issue. There are copious caption boxes for David’s narration as events unfold, possibly too many at times. However, Gagnon and Nelson more subtly provide exposition and engage in world building, even in little scenes like the montage of David’s jobs or a confrontation with his opposite number in the Ramses family, Jacob the Burner. They subtly drop hints that might not be important to the main plot now, but likely will be revisited in more depth in later issues.
Stelfreeze grounds the supernatural story with a realistic art style. His tough guys for example, are appropriately large and menacing, with the poacher on the boat and Jacob the Burner especially standing out. Kellen has the beauty to seduce people (Casey excluded) and the defined muscles to do things the hard way if need be. As great as the character designs are, this is another case where the effort put into the scenery sells the realism and enhances the story. It’s worth slowing down your reading to appreciate Stelfreeze’s visual storytelling. In a visual medium, actions really do speak louder than words, and if you just skim you’re going to miss some nice beats. There’s a panel where Nybor charges his enemies and the background warps to show his speed that’s a definite highlight.
What really stands out visually, though, is Moore’s use of color. Each scene is made distinct by the selection of several color. For instance, the opening scene on a boat is primarily done in greens and yellows before changing to blues and purples once David heads below deck. Even the individual panels for each of David’s tasks for the day have unique color schemes separating them. The other great use of color is in showing the passage of time throughout the day. The scenes don’t simply take place during the day or night. Instead, the color of the sky and the shadows appropriately change as the story moves from early morning to night. It fits the story and shows great attention to detail from the art team.
This was a well-paced, engaging debut issue. From what’s presented, this won’t simply be another story of a human taking on a horde of vampires. The writers have laid the groundwork of a complex mythology. With that out of the way, hopefully there won’t be as much need for David’s thoughts to cover up the action.
Eric is a contributing writer for Drunk On Comics. You can follow him on Twitter at @EricDOwens