Friday, February 15, 2019


Art by: Enrico Marini | Written by: Jean Dufaux

RAPTORS is the story of... well, to be honest, after finishing the first book, I'm not exactly certain what it's about. I can say it's set in the modern day, in an unnamed city which combines shades of New York and Gothic Europe, and that the protagonists are a police detective named Vicky Lenore and her partner, Benito Spiaggi. We meet them initially as they investigate the latest in a string of killings. Every corpse has been found with an unusual cyst behind the ear, and regardless of age, each victim's organs have been discovered to be young and healthy during autopsies.

Almost immediately, the story reveals that the killings are being carried out by a brother and sister with a leather/latex fetish, who have been stalking these people and usually killing them in their homes. It seems the cyst is a trait shared by all of these apparently immortal individuals. They can die, but immediately return to life -- however the mystery siblings are able to kill them permanently, and using this ability, they're working their way through all of their kind to pick them off.

Confused yet? I can't say I blame you. While my summary is sparse on the specifics, that's basically all we know by the end of the first book. There are bits and pieces more, for example the fact that these immortals live among us and form some sort of conspiracy which has infiltrated the police, the FBI, and presumably more -- but there's absolutely no explanation as to what they are or why they're doing all this.

Now, look -- I love a mystery. And in an ongoing, serialized comic book series, it's perfectly reasonable to drop a bunch of setup into an issue with no resolution, since the plot will presumably be resolved within a few months' time. But RAPTORS, published in a European comic album format, had its four volumes released in 1998, 2000, 2001, and 2003. And if you're going to make your audience wait two years for the next installment of your story, it might be nice to give them a bit more than a bunch of vague nothingness in part one.

The volume does end on an exciting note, with Lenore and Spiaggi faking their own deaths at the hands of a corrupt FBI agent to escape into anonymity and plan their next move, and we do see that there's some sort of immortal shadow council pulling the conspiracy's strings and working against both the detectives and the rogue siblings -- but for my money, that's not really enough. In this sort of format, even when ending on a cliffhanger, a book should dole out some sort of information to keep readers guessing. RAPTORS volume one tosses lots of bits and pieces against the wall, but by the final page, nothing adds up to anything yet, and our major characters -- Lenore, Spiaggi, and the twins -- are still mostly ciphers (aside from meeting Spiaggi's family in one scene).

Compare this with, say, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, which gives us character arcs for all the protagonists, a startling revelation near its conclusion, and still leaves us with a dramatic "To Be Continued" moment, and you have something that left viewers satisfied while still wanting more. That's how you tell a story which won't be continued for a few years!

Of course, I don't have the problems described above. RAPTORS was published nigh-on two decades ago, and I was able to buy the entire series in one fell swoop. I read book one today, and I'll have finished the entire series by the end of the week (though you'll see my posts on a weekly basis as usual). But, looking at this from the perspective of someone reading it as it came out, all I see is an exercise in reader frustration.

All that said, the artwork -- which was, of course, the main draw for me -- is beautiful. The characters all have unique designs, and Marini captures the Gothic horror atmosphere perfectly. The city is dark and grimy, the occasional gore is highly effective, and the action is exciting. If nothing else, RAPTORS is beautifully and lavishly illustrated -- and even if the story remains muddled, I suspect I can count of Enrico Marini to keep things enjoyable regardless.


  1. I don't know, I think it's fun approach to give only the vague guidelines on what kind of story it will reveal to be. There's just enough of the usual clicheic fantastic elements, something old and something new, to make you mentally write your own story and ponder what you may have guessed right. That's exhilirating, not frustrating.

    The atmosphere is a bit Lovecraftian in modern way. Tough call to call it a bad thing.

    1. True, and I do think it gets better as it goes along. I should note, if it's not evident yet, that a lot of these posts are written based on my frame of mind in that exact moment when I finish reading something. My impression of anything is colored by whatever else is going on at that time -- so, in all honesty, how I feel about a book the first time I read it could change if I were to read it again a month later!

      That said, while I don't need every little detail spelled out in the first chapter, I do think this one was a bit too vague. It did make me want to read the next book, but not necessarily in a good way!