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V Wars: An “Almost Great” Comic-Book Adaptation

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

By Nena Morena

In most cultures there is at least a myth, a legend, or a folktale about the existence of blood-drinking humanoid creatures that prey on the innocent for pleasure and survival. Books and movies have depicted these monsters in many different forms, but we call them vampires. In some stories vampires are demons from Hell, in others they are born from magic, in others they are supernatural beings. This is very unbelievable and hard to accept but what if they were the result of a DNA mutation caused by a virus that was thought extinct. V Wars, a Netflix show based on the homonymous comic book series by Jonathan Maberry, presents vampires as supernatural individuals affected by a disease or as they like to identify themselves “the next stage in human evolution”. This science horror fiction series made the idea of vampires into a scary reality from which no one can escape. While the Army is ready to exterminate them and scientists want to examine them, the people in power fight over doing what is right and doing what is best for them. This first season definitely poses a few interesting questions to the audience: what would you do if vampirism was real? How far would you go to protect yourself and your family? Would you see vampires as humans affected by a disease and in need of a cure or just animals that need to be killed?

The peaceful life of Dr. Luther Swann (Ian Somerhalder), a famous scientist and physician, is suddenly interrupted when he is called to investigate the mysterious disappearance of two colleagues in an artic research station. Once they arrive, Dr. Swann and his best friend Michael Fayne (Adrian Holmes) discover a skeleton and a broken biohazard container. Exposed to the toxin, they go back to the United States to quarantine. Weeks go by but no significant symptoms seem to affect the two men who are then sent home. Unfortunately, not long after, Michael starts to experience improvements in his hearing and strength, visions of himself drinking human blood, and an increasingly violent temperament. Things escalate when he kills a girl without remembering how and he asks his friend Luther to help him cover up the murder. At first Luther accepts but then he regrets his decision and goes to the police to confess. There, he finds out that Michael is a suspect in other murders in which the victims were completely drained of blood. As other people start to exhibit the same symptoms as Fayne, Dr. Luther comes to the conclusion that this millennia-old virus that turns them into vampires is spreading very quickly and must be cured before it becomes a global pandemic.

V Wars is made up of 10 episodes that range from 35 minutes to 1 hour long. I believe that the number of episodes and their length were the consequences of the low budget available to the producers. Unfortunately, this penalizes the pace of the show because too many events happen too quickly with little explanation. The jumps in the timeline were a little confusing and cause a lack of understanding for some of the characters’ actions. It is not easy to adapt a comic book into a show, but I think that the writers of V Wars could have left some things out and chosen quality over quantity. The writing could have also been done better since some of the dialogue was too simple at times and some scenes lack real emotions. Overall, the story was very engaging thanks to many little twists, graphic scenes, and interesting characters who challenge my own viewpoints on a possible dangerous situation like this one. Each episode left me with more questions and hopes for the characters’ futures.

In addition to being the producer and the director of some of the episodes, Ian Somerhalder is the main protagonist of the show as Dr. Luther Swann. He does a great job interpreting the roles of the smart scientist who wants to find a cure at all costs, a man who is struggling to see the humanity left in his best friend, and most of all the protective parent who fights tooth and nail to save his son from the pandemic. His struggle between wanting to save his friend and helping the police prevent more murders was believable and I admired the courage that his character showed throughout the show. However, I was a little disappointed by the indifference displayed towards the death of people he cared about and the superficiality of how he handles some life-or-death situations. I do not blame Ian Somerhalder who showed an incredible versatility when you compare this to his previous acting experiences, but instead I think that the problem is the writing. Adrian Holmes as Michael Fayne gave an excellent performance in my opinion as patient zero and the first human to go through the vampire transformation. The conflict between his human side and survival instinct was really captivating. I found him to be the most believable, logical, and dynamic character capable of involving the audience in his emotions more than any others. Jackie Lai plays Kaylee Vo, the journalist who exposes the government’s attempts to hide the virus to the public. My anger towards her character during most of the show showed me how well she acted her part. Her determination to find the truth mixed with her arrogance and courage made her remarkable. Lastly, although Nikky Reed as Rachel Thompson did not have much screen time, she absolutely dominated her scenes leaving me with a desire to see more of her character.

I rate V Wars as Average on the five-tiered scale (Excellent, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad). The idea that people transform into vampires due to a virus that changes their DNA is unique and refreshing. The cons that I found in this show were the CGI which was not always the best, the missed opportunity to develop the main characters, and the simplicity in which “the professionals” handle some situations. The pros were good acting from a great cast, interesting plot points and twists, and compelling action scenes. There is more sex and gore than in some other vampire shows but these elements contributed to the creation of a darker and more realistic atmosphere. There are some minor plot holes because of the jumps in the timeline, but they did not bother me much. I have heard that some people really disliked the show, but I find it quite entertaining, and I still hope for a season 2 in the future even though it was canceled.

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