The title alone will be enough to scare some people away from DC vs. Vampires. Comics stories that exist outside of mainstream continuity and explore unusual crossovers or genre experiments are often thought to be lesser-than at best and straight up gimmicky at worst. And yet, DC vs Vampires #4 continues to deliver an exceptional limited series that is true to its huge stable of characters and provides solid narrative thrills that even some mainstream series don’t always deliver on.
SPOILERS AHEAD for DC vs. Vampires #4!
This issue picks up by finally giving us a peek at what John Constatine has been up to during the ensuing events. His presence was inevitable given the subject matter, and the cold open delivers on an incredibly humorous exchange between Constatine and Vampire Zatanna as she tries to get the drop on her fellow sorcerer.
Meanwhile, the main drama of the last issue continues right where it left off as Batman has unknowingly been framed for the shocking death of Barry Allen and is subsequently confronted by Green Arrow in the Batcave. After some uneasy pleasantries to test the waters, the two heroes engage in an epic multi-page clash that is masterfully laid out and colored by Otto Schmidt. His work is superb and somehow seems to get better and better with each issue of the series.
Similarly, the writing from James Tynion and Matthew Rosenberg has been outstanding thus far, both in the way each element of the story has been structured, as well as the fantastic dialogue throughout. The speech is snappy, sharp and always sounds specific to the character who is speaking — no easy feat in a book with such a large cast.
The aforementioned battle between Batman and Green Arrow that makes up the main event of this issue is deliciously engaging since both characters believe the other to be turned, even though we know neither of them is. The tension creates a scene that is deadly serious for the heroes, but absolute comedy gold for us playing along at home.
“Why did you shoot me…with an arrow full of water?”
“It was holy water. Why are you trying to stake me?”
Naturally, this all gets cleared up, and eventually Batman is able to determine who has actually gone over to the dark side (because of course he is). But before anything can be done about it, the entirety of the Justice League descends upon the scene in a spectacular cliffhanger, and all bets are off with no way for anyone to tell who is who.
It’s remarkable the DC vs. Vampires has already managed to deliver so above and beyond on its premise with two thirds of the story still remaining to be told. I had my doubts when the book was announced as a twelve-part limited series, but it is a tribute to the high caliber of the creative team that a premise with such high potential for tawdriness has one of the freshest superhero series on the current slate.
DC vs. Vampires #4 is another stellar entry in a series that serves as a reminder that zany combinations and bold genre experiments are not just well suited to superhero comics — they are perhaps what they do best.
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