Written By Jake Garner
“…But Kelly “Needle Dick” was nothing compared to the shock of becoming the Jefe of Miami’s most powerful vampire cartel.”
Vampires. Somewhat lame maybe? In the majority of cases I would permit the ‘lameness’ that is wildly thrown around when referring to the toothed maniacs of common folklore. When somebody is trying to recommend any form of media to us, it is easy to become skeptical, especially when the term ‘vampire’ is thrown into the equation. Perhaps more than anything else, we have Robert Pattinson to thank for this. What I want to introduce in this article is an escape of sorts from this stereotype of the fanged genre. Sure, there really has been some stuff pumped out over the years that makes it feel as if the vampire genus is something primarily aimed at the young teenage female, and rightly so, because in reality it is. Sure, there might be one or two butch adult males out there who dig the Twilight Saga, but it has its intended audience. But that is the key word here, ‘intended’. It was never really aimed at the adult male population.
“Cancel my dinner… refill my vicodin…”
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a knock at Twilight, it seems to be a formula apparent in most vampire portrayals. So, what happens when that formula changes but the folklore stays of a similar nature? For many, images of Wesley Snipes spring to mind. Blade really broke the ‘vampire’ mould, both in our hands and on screen. Yes it was way before Twilight, I know, but we cannot deny that the whole vampire thing has been dominated by a younger audience in recent years. Enter Vertigo’s Bite Club, which was later followed by Bite Club: Vampire Crime Unit. Quite literally, Howard Chaykin, David Tischman and David Hahn’s unique take on vampires didn’t just break the mould, it completely disintegrated it. As I have said many times before, it is within these miniseries that some of the best action takes place.
“…That holy holy shit cuts not ice in this outfit. Forgive me, father… or do you prefer “Papi”?”
So what exactly is Bite Club? It is a saucy, blood filled, crude, fleshy look at a life of crime in the heart of Miami. If I had to describe it in a nut shell, I would have to say it was a cross between The Sopranos and a nice wicker basked teeming with lust and carnality. In other words, enjoyable. The tale begins with the death of crime boss, Eduardo Del Toro. In turn, each remaining family member has their beady little eyes on the prize left behind in the wake of Del Toro’s death, the business. It is one thing being at the forefront of Miami’s largest criminal organisation, but when you are a bunch of savage vampires as well… sh*t gets crazy. To great disenchantment, the youngest son of the Del Toro family, Leto, was named successor. One slight glitch, this particular son is a Catholic Priest. Leto plays the part of the ‘good priest’ and announces that the Del Toro Empire will stop its illegal activities. To cut a six issue story short, things really start to unravel from this point as sibling rivalry, plot and mayhem take the helm.
“Fuck you, Favors… and speaking of animals, you wanna maybe keep your daughter off her knees at half time.”
With Bite Club, we are presented one six issues series and a five issue follow on. This makes for a quick enjoyable read that is more gripping than the clutches of death itself. Fierce words, but honest nonetheless. One thing Bite Club most certainly isn’t is a mindless display of gang mentality and violence. The comic series has deeper undertones that are uprooted by the reader as they move forwards through the story. The comic is considered, most importantly by its writer, to actually be a platform which deals with several social issues. In particular, two concerns are brought into the spotlight. Bite Club portrays a vision of East Coast immigration in a way that not many other miniseries have. The series tackles subjects such as immigration head on, while at the same time giving us a more ‘adult’ look at life as a vampire. Tied in with this is the idea of racial profiling. Again, this topic of identity is coupled with fantastic artwork and storytelling, which ultimately makes the series more accessible and relatable as a final product.