If I know one thing from the World of Darkness, it’s that being a vampire is a tough life, filled with various dangers and crises. The difficulties are starting to pile up in issue #2 of Vault’s new Vampire the Masquerade comic—both for Camarilla enforcer Cecily Bane in the main Winter’s Teeth storyline, as well as the anarch gang in the suburbs of the twin cities from The Anarch Tales. And it’s happening fast! Just two issues in, there’s already a lot of groundwork being laid for the complex political machinations that are about to unfold in the Twin Cities.
Vampire: The Masquerade: Winter’s Teeth #2
Addison Duke (colorist), Nathan Gooden (artist), Blake Howard (writer), Tini Howard (writer), Devmalya Pramanik (artist), Tim Seeley (writer)
September 16, 2020
In the first issue, the prince of the Twin Cities was discussed, but here we meet her in all her glory—Prince Samantha Merrain, an elder of clan Toreador who appears to hail from ancient Ireland. (Of interesting note for VTM fans, Samantha is not described as a Toreador in the text of the comic but her spiel about the history of tempera paint made it feel very obvious to me, and then it was confirmed in the extra game materials at the end of the issue.) Samantha is the perfect Vampire character. Whereas Cecily, a youngster by vampire standards, is still trying to hold onto something of her humanity, Samantha, described as “older than fairy tales,” is far enough removed from being a human that something about her feels inherently off. Even as art on a page, she’s has a sort of stage presence, commanding the scenes that she’s in, demanding the reader’s attention. She goes from pleasant to intense on the turn of a dime, and she waxes poetic about the things she misses from the middle ages. Even the way she looks is perfect—Dev Pramanik’s art really nailed making her look appropriately uncanny and regal. She’s everything I want an elder to be and I’m completely intrigued by her.
We also see more of Ali, the fledgling from issue #1, who is now posing as Cecily’s childe. I am a sucker for the sire/childe dynamic in Vampire, and even though they’re being deceitful about Ali’s actual origins, the two of them still embody this dynamic. Just like being a parent is about more than just passing on your genes, there’s a social aspect to being a sire and Cecily is stepping up into it, teaching her fledgling lessons about how to survive life as a vampire. Lessons like “don’t trust anyone” and “how to appease the hungry beast that swells inside you, desperate for blood”. I had a sneaking suspicion that Ali was lying to Cecily about being a fledgling; her genuinely horrified reaction to feeding for the first time suggests I was wrong about that. But there’s definitely something going on with Ali that she’s not saying, and I’m curious to find out what that is.
While Prince Samantha and Ali remain mysterious, Cecily continues to reveal more about herself and her motivations to the reader—and most of them have to do with her struggle with the curse of vampirism. In a lot of media, vampires being “cool” and “powerful” eclipses the fact that vampirism is a curse, and I like the emphasis on the weight of having to live with that burden, which has always been the point of the World of Darkness in many ways. The anarchs in the Anarch Tales also have the curse on their minds, and it brings up an interesting quandary about the hierarchy of privilege. Are thinbloods marginalized, because they can’t hold the kind of power and status regular vampires can in kindred society? Or are they privileged, because they can’t understand what it’s like to suffer from the full effects of the curse? These are the kinds of nuanced questions Vampire should be bringing up and pondering.
As the comic continues, more classic Vampire plot points are added. This issue also introduces us to another new character, Mr. Block, who we know very little about at this point besides the fact that he wants Cecily dead. (And of course someone wants her dead, because it certainly wouldn’t feel like Vampire: The Masquerade otherwise.) In his quest to make this happen, he goes down into the warrens—the sewers under the city where the grotesque Nosferatu make their home—to meet with “Ms. Sphinc” and sell her a mysterious jump drive containing some sort of valuable intel. The Nosferatu are traditionally collectors and traders of information, so this is very genre. (Pramanik’s art excels here again; there’s room for creativity for the exact ways that the Nosferatu look monstrous and like in issue #1, he does a great job balancing World of Darkness nostalgia with great art that isn’t trying too hard to be edgy.)
It also looks like hunters are going to be an antagonist in the continuing story, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they tackle that. (There’s a symbol shown at one point that doesn’t match any of the existing hunter symbols I know of from the World of Darkness, but bears more than a passing resemblance to the Christian chi-ro. Could that mean a religious hunter group?) Hunters are also actively causing problems in the Anarch Tales storyline, which makes me wonder if the two plots will converge sooner than I expected. And I can’t wait to start finding out in Vampire: The Masquerade #3!