30 Days of Night is a comic book miniseries that was written by Steve Niles (no relation, unfortunately) and illustrated by Ben Templesmith that involves vampires attacking Barrow, Alaska, a small town where the sun doesn’t rise for thirty days in the winter. I was first introduced to the story through the film adaption that was released in 2007. While this review will focus on the comic book miniseries, a lot of the issues I had with the comic were corrected or improved in the film adaption.
However, before diving into some of the shortcomings of the comic, let’s discuss its strengths. The premise is incredible and terrifying. I couldn’t believe no one had used this setting where there is a month of darkness before for a vampire novel. The fact that there is no sun takes away one of the greatest weaknesses of vampires. Furthermore, the vampires had a unique and subtly horrifying look to them that, coupled with how strong they were, made the humans helpless against them. A lot of the concepts in this comic were interesting and unique, such as injecting vampire blood to fight the vampires and committing suicide as a vampire by watching the sun rise. Overall, the premise of the story and the ideas it explores were, by far, the greatest strengths of this story.
My biggest issue with 30 Days of Night was that many of these really interesting elements were not developed in the story. Who is this woman outside Barrow who sends her son to take pictures of the vampires? Who are the people who live in this town? How did they survive as long as they did? Because the characters weren’t really developed, I had a hard time connecting with these cool concepts because I had no one to care about. One of the strengths of the film is that you get to know the characters of the town and care about them so when Sheriff Eben injects himself with blood, you feel genuinely sorry for him and yet commend him for his bravery. In the comic, I could appreciate the concept, but I couldn’t connect to the characters and, by extend the story, because there weren’t characters to care about. Likewise, while I see how the helicopter enabled a convenient cover story, the side story with the mother and son didn’t seem to fit in this story. They either needed to be developed or cut out. In the film adaptation, they were cut out, and I think it made the story more effective because you felt trapped in the town with them. This comic had so many amazing elements, and I just wish they were more developed.
30 Days of Night is a unique take on vampires. Of all the vampire stories I have read, these are some of the most terrifying vampires I’ve ever came across because of how intelligent and physically superior they are to humans. Furthermore, the setting of the story in this town where the sun doesn’t rise for thirty days makes them even more deadly because they do not have to hide during the day. That being said, several elements of this story were underdeveloped, especially the characters. Unfortunately, this might be a rare case where the movie might actually be better than the source material.