30 Days of Night Volume 3: Return to Barrow
written by Steve Niles
illustrated by Ben Templesmith
IDW Publishing (2004)
It's been over a year since I read DarkDays, the second volume in the 30Days of Night series, so I figured it was about time I hopped back on the bandwagon. After the first two graphic novels impressed me, I had some really high hopes for this third book.
Barrow is rebuilding, though it's a shadow of its former self, still heavily scarred from the murderous rampage of a vampire clan that descended on the remote Alaskan town. The new sheriff is the brother of a murdered resident who is skeptical about the stories of vampires and wants to find out what really happened to the town and his brother. Well, it takes no time at for him to figure out that vampires are real, because the vampires are back in Barrow.
Apparently, vampires hate loose strings. Stands to reason, considering they've been able to exist for centuries without detection. Barrow is as much a symbol of their potential ruin as it is an easy meal. Still, the vampires throw themselves at Barrow haphazardly, without organization or focus, until an FBI agent recently turned arrives with a desire for self-preservation--and revenge against the humans that would see him destroyed.
The initial setup for this book was great, and I was really looking forward to how Barrow would be depicted in the aftermath of what it went through, but this was a bit of a disappointment for me. The artwork is, again, top-notch. Templesmith does such a superb job of capturing the ferocity of the vampires and the desolation of an arctic landscape, every page was a treat to pore over. But there really didn't seem to be a lot of meat on the bone when it came to the story and these characters. The plot felt very rushed and often times like an abbreviated version of the first graphic novel. A couple of secondary characters, namely the deputy and the surly hunter, got a bit of the spotlight, but they didn't seem to have a really important place in the story, like they were there more for atmosphere than anything else. And with a lot of the mystique removed from the vampires in the first two volumes, the threat they presented in this book didn't feel nearly as imposing.
The book was a fun diversion over a weekend, but I found myself wishing I had the fourth volume to read immediately afterward just to see if the pace and depth of the story might increase. I dunno, but it seems like this third volume is one that readers could afford to skip and not risk missing out on anything hinged too tightly to the main story.