Where's A Belmont When You Need One?
Eh, as much as I LOVE complaining about the obnoxious banner, and it still does mess this up by setting it apart from the rest of the series, there's no major ramifications of the banner on this cover. And overall the cover's kind of lackluster considering the issue. The background is just TOO CALMING. Inside the issue pretty much every background is GOTHAM CITY ON FIRE. Where's the fire on this cover!? It looks like they're just dealing with a few vampire stragglers. Yawn.
But ok, inside the issue everything in the background is GOTHAM CITY ON FIRE. It's AWESOME. Everything is tense and epic, you really feel how big a threat this is. And the issue spends time to make you slowly realize the magnitude of the threat. Why aren't Zatanna's spells working? Why did John Constantine's magic circle fail? And you will likely realize it before the characters; Cain is causing magic to fail. The FULL explanation is actually something that required the exposition, and the characters didn't have the full benefit of knowing all the details. Shade's ability failure has a different explanation, but one that's deeply intriguing and says A LOT about his character and abilities.
Although speaking of powers, there's a few scenes that have character explain their abilities with some awkwardly placed exposition. Shade's teeters on the edge of this, but the kicker is when Zatanna jumps into action by explaining how her powers work and where she got them right before she utters a spell. Who's benefit is that done for? Readers of I, Vampire who haven't been following JLD? Inner monologue would be better, at least I wouldn't be asking who she's explaining to since her teammates already know.
But I digress, the artwork in this issue isn't Mikel Janin but.... holy crap do I not mind that. We've got two artists, Admira Wijaya and Daniel Sampere, but.... can someone explain to me the difference? Maybe it was Wijaya as the colorist, but even though the credits tell you when the change in artists occurs, I STILL couldn't find a difference. This is of course a good thing, since unjustified multiple artists bothers the hell out of me, and also that the artwork looks AMAZING. There's TONS of detail that doesn't take away from the dynamism, and the backgrounds are just chock full of GORGEOUS architecture in flames. There's realistic looking sparks and such, and just... it looks incredible. I actually prefer this to Janin, but if this is only for the crossover that's fine too, because the sense of 'crossover' would partially justify a temporary artist switch.
And at the same time, I feel like this is a very well handled crossover. I don't feel like I NEEDED to read I, Vampire #6 to understand this (But I totally did because I LOVE I, Vampire. Third favorite of the New 52, and I'm reading them ALL.). The characters ease you into the situation, and though you KNOW you arrived late to the party, you don't feel like you missed something of utterly vital importance. And it plays a roll that compliments I, Vampire; it doesn't seem to overlap with the concurrent I, Vampire; but nor does it feel like it's one story that runs straight through two series that temporarily function as one.
And I'm just falling in love with John Constantine as a character. I've heard criticisms of his depiction (And I'm not certain if his jibe about Manchester is him being obligatorily British or genuinely in character) but this appears to be the general sense of who his character is. He keeps trying to shirk his responsibilities here out of a sense of "not my problem," and when he DOES slay some vampires, he's far more effective than the rest of the team is, and without using any of his magic. Plus he's so nonchalant about it.
Then there's a few plot hiccups. I'm not sure if Batgirl's costume is totally accurate, or maybe the yellow is blindingly strong so it just appears off. And when did Batman meet the Justice League Dark team? I remember he was with Zatanna for a bit there in the first issue, but I'm fairly certain he hasn't been around since then.
In Conclusion: 4.5/5
There's a few hiccups here in there, but this issue is some of the most important things a comic book, and moreso a crossover, needs to be. It's AWESOME. And it's COMPELLING. I was at the edge of my seat, completely enveloped by the story as I read; and yet there was still this sense that it was a companion to I, Vampire as opposed to 100% required reading. This is the kind of mini-crossover that people seem to like best. I still definitely recommend this if you're reading I, Vampire and want the FULL story, or to people who were considering dropping this title after the first arc and/r waiting until Lemire took over. Rise of the Vampires is NOT to be missed.