Review by Frank Plowright
Although vampires have largely over-run Manhattan, there is still some hope among Ephraim Goodweather and his associates that they can be prevented from escaping the island and infecting the broader population. Goodweather also has a second plan, to deal with billionaire Eldritch Palmer who financed the infestation, and to this end Volume 3 finished with Goodweather confronting his former boss.
David Lapham and Mike Huddleston do show us Goodweather meeting Palmer, but not under the circumstances he envisaged. Given all the action surrounding it, it’s to Lapham’s credit that their conversation is one of the most compelling scenes in the book. Yes, he’s taken the basics from Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s novel, but it’s Lapham who’s choreographed it so effectively, releasing the evil gradually. Huddleston’s always shown Palmer as a sickly man, with colourist Dan Jackson always ensuring he has the ghostly pallor of death about him. The result is a sort of utterly chilling version of Montgomery Burns, only ever concerned with their own benefit and happy with the remainder of humanity being collateral damage.
Most of the cast we’re rooting for are separated during this volume, making multiple points of tension to follow, and it’s masterfully exploited. At one especially tense moment Lapham switches to another story of Abraham Setrakian’s past, a real heartbreaker, and succeeds in captivating with it. It’s a bravura move.
So is the original plotting on Del Toro and Hogan’s part. They set up the finale in The Night Eternal by revealing the terrifying relevance of what Palmer has done, and bringing home some realities to much of the cast. It’s bleakly horrifying, and seemingly just the appetiser. If preferred, this story is complete in hardcover as The Strain Book Two.