Review by Frank Plowright
Quinlan was introduced around the midway point of The Strain novels, and therefore also their graphic novel adaptations. As this story is also credited to the novel writers Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan it was presumably not included in the main series of adaptations due to lack of space, although a far more contracted version appeared in the course of Volume 5. As before, the adaptation is the work of David Lapham, but unlike all other Strain graphic novels, the art is by Edgar Salazar.
The reason Quinlan is possibly the most interesting character in the novels is due to his dual human/vampire nature. While still dependent on blood, none of the other traditional vampire weakness such as silver and sunlight affect him, yet he’s still considerably stronger and more agile than humans and recovers rapidly from any wound. He’s been tracking down the Master for centuries, and eventually allies himself with the humans featured in The Strain.
Caligula rules the Roman Empire when Quinlan is born, his father not yet known as the Master, still calling himself Thrax and advising Caligula. Quinlan is aware of his needs, and of being different to humans, but growing up in a cave with his mother, it takes him some time to piece together that he’s relatively unique, and only knows of Thrax as a threat hunting him down, unaware he’s his father.
Salazar draws everything efficiently, supplying good historical art, and he’s great on the middle section of Quinlan leading a campaign, the most thrilling sequence. However, overall this doesn’t match the core series. Beyond an enthralling cast, a reason The Strain proved such a compelling read is that there was no sentimentality regarding that cast. The writers built up characters and discarded them once their narrative purpose had been served, nearly always shockingly. That sense of the anvil hanging over people is removed here because we know Quinlan and his enemy survive to the 21st century, and while his story features dangers and twists, the knowledge of his safety reduces the tension. Furthermore, seasoned horror readers will figure out where the story is heading in the final chapter. It still has a minor emotional resonance, but with more consideration earlier this would have been increased.
Mister Quinlan, Vampire Hunter wasn’t incorporated in any of the hardcovers compiling The Strain, so is only available in this paperback edition.