Friday, March 1, 2019


Art by: Enrico Marini | Written by: Jean Dufaux

The fourth installment of RAPTORS has way more action than either of the previous volumes. It begins with a police raid in which a gaggle of cops are killed by Camilla, while elsewhere, her brother Drago murders a senator who was depicted in the prior book as a key member of the vampire shadow council.

At the same time, a mysterious priest is, for unknown reasons, trying to track down our protagonist, Detective Lenore. Instead he finds a massive community of runaway children living beneath the city. The children reveal to the priest that they've fled their families for fear of being "turned" to vampires by their parents. Interestingly, in the prior book Lenore observed that there weren't as many children in the city as there used to be. If that many kids have run away that it's a noticeable epidemic, does that mean that the majority of the adults in the city are undead at this point?? The story doesn't get into this, but it seems likely.

However the Earth still has a decent-sized human population, as our next scene is a meeting of the vampire council in which it's decided that humanity will be rounded up and herded into zoos rather than continuing to enjoy freedom (and ignorance of the vampires' existence, apparently). It's at this point that we finally catch up with Lenore, living in solitary confinement since she was captured by the police at the second book's conclusion. She's stripped in her cell and nearly raped, but her partner, Spiaggi, comes to her rescue along with the priest.

Spiaggi and the priest get Lenore to a safehouse, but she soon escapes and locates Drago and Camilla. The twins take her home with them for a threesome -- but Lenore is followed by Aznar Akeba, the young man who was recruited last volume by the vampire council and sent to kill the twins. After locating their home, Aznar leaves the trio and has sex with his college girlfriend, who he kills mid-coitus before departing to carry out his mission. The action picks up again as Aznar battles Drago and Camilla. But when Drago catches sight of Aznar's magical sword, he interrupts the fight to launch into a flashback to his younger days, when he and Camilla traveled the world separately. This blood-drenched anecdote -- and the entire volume itself -- ends with the revelation that Aznar is Drago's son.

So that explains why the young man doesn't have the cyst behind his ear which characterizes the vampires of this world. We also see in this book that Lenore's previous dalliance with the twins has left her changed. For one thing, she possesses a degree of superhuman strength, bending a prison bar in her hand. For another, she's somehow attuned to the pair, finding them easily after she ditches Spiaggi.

With Aznar's past now filled in, the priest becomes our new mystery character as of this installment. We know nothing about him; not even his name (heck, not even whether he's actually a priest -- at one point someone declares him an imposter!), but he seems to be a good guy, interested in Lenore and helping Spiaggi track her down. He also saves a group of children from being captured by the city's corrupt cops, executing one of the officers with a bullet to the head as he makes his escape.

I kind of like this style of "escalating mystery characters" employed by Dufaux and Marini. Book one, in addition to setting up the mystery of the vampire council, gave us Drago and Camilla, unnamed and on a killing spree for reasons unrevealed. The second book told us who they were and what they were up to, then gave us Aznar as the new mystery. He was a vampire, but not like most of the others, and we didn't know where he'd come from. Now, book three clears up Aznar's past and sets up the priest -- who will presumably (hopefully!) be explained in the fourth and final installment.

When you're releasing roughly one book per yer, this seems a reasonable way to go with mysteries. Don't drag them out forever, but as you resolve them, toss out new ones to keep readers coming back. I don't think this would work as well in a monthly comic book, but for a publication schedule such as RAPTORS followed in the late nineties, it's just fine.

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