Quick Review: VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE WINTER’S TEETH (Vault)

Vampire-Masquerade-WintersTeethTPBAn excellent new comic series, set in the World of Darkness

When Cecily Bain, an enforcer for the Twin Cities’ vampiric elite, takes a mysterious new vampire under her wing, she’s dragged into an insidious conspiracy. Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the cities, a rebellious found-family of vampire cast-outs investigates a vicious killing.

As the unlives of the Kindred twine together and betrayals are unearthed, will Cecily be able to escape and save what’s left of her family, or will she be yet another pawn sacrificed to maintain the age-old secret: that vampires exist among the living?

Born from the world of the internationally best-selling role playing game, Vampire: The Masquerade’s critically acclaimed comics debut spins a gripping and tragic tale about the Beast within us all.

Winter’s Teeth, the first Vampire: The Masquerade comic series, is an excellent introduction to the World of Darkness and its vampire culture. Collecting the first five issues, Tim Seeley et al have written a great horror-mystery. I really enjoyed this.

I first learned of Vampire: The Masquerade when I stumbled across the video game, Redemption (2000). I was swept up by the story, the mythology and the aesthetic — I played it a couple of times all the way through, and am devastated that I can’t port it over to my Mac. At that time, I didn’t have great internet access, nor access to any of the World of Darkness RPG materials, the novels, or anything else — I was moving a lot, and in my final year of high school, and preparing for university. So, it fell off my radar for a bit, until the Bloodlines video game arrived in 2004. I love that as well. This is all a rather long-winded way of saying that I am somewhat familiar with the V:TM world, and very much interested in reading more about it. I’ve been looking forward to reading this ever since it was announced, and I’m so glad that it exceeded my expectations.

Vampire-Masquerade-WintersTeethTPB-interior1The story in Winter’s Teeth is as much a crime/mystery story as it is horror. The main protagonist, Cecily, is an enforcer for the elite of vampire society in the Twin Cities. She’s tough, a bit of a rebel and outcast (and “Anarch”), but very good at her job. We’re quickly given an impression of her place in the Twin Cities hierarchy, as well as her role in maintaining the Masquerade. We also learn a fair bit about her character in the first chapter — Seeley et al do a great job of quickly locating us in her (un)life and fleshing out her personality.

I enjoyed that the story was set in the Twin Cities, too — so often, vampire stories are set in bigger cities, like New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans (thanks to Anne Rice), London, and so forth. Moving it to frigid Minnesota was a nice change.

You don’t have to be familiar with the V:TM game system or mythology in order to enjoy this comic. Seeley sprinkles pertinent information and world-building throughout the story, giving us just enough to understand the dynamics of the vampire sub-culture — its network of clans, hierarchy, rules, etc. — without coming across like an info-dump or background book. It helped refresh my own memory, too, for which I was very glad. Cecily’s investigation takes her — and a newly made vampire who she takes under her wing — across the various strata of vampire society. It’s a very well-done story and plot. Dev Pramanik’s artwork is great, too, and really evokes the murky world in which these characters operate: whether up in the glittering towers of the elite, or in the dank and gross sewers where some of them dwell.

Vampire-Masquerade-WintersTeethTPB-interior2The main storyline also has a concurrent, parallel story, “The Anarch Tales”, which follows a group of down-on-their luck Anarchs as they set out on a mission. We’re introduced to the characters, all of whom have different backgrounds and are also of different clans. It adds a bit more to the world-building, and ultimately links up with the main story at the end. A very good addition.

For those readers who are already familiar with the RPG, each issue includes exclusive material for the latest edition of the Vampire: The Masquerade game. Collected at the back of this edition, they offer a bit of background and details that allow gamers to incorporate the Winter’s Teeth story into one of their games.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, and look forward to reading more of the comic series. (There is also a new collection of short stories, Walk Among Us, out now in audio and available in print/eBook in May.) Winter’s Teeth was everything I could have wanted from a V:TM comic, and more. Very highly recommended.

*

Winter’s Teeth is published by Vault Comics in North America and in the UK — the single issues are available now, and this collected edition is due out on March 3rd, 2021.

Writers: Tim Seeley (Winter’s Teeth), Blake Howard & Tini Howard (The Anarch Tales)
Art: Devmalya Pramanik (Winter’s Teeth) & Nathan Gooden (The Anarch Tales)

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