The term fan service is used in visual media to describe elements of a story that serve solely to amuse or titillate its audience. This usually comes in the form of shower scenes, sex scenes, or brief nude scenes that are extraneous to story advancement. Bite Club: VCU #1 feels like a cluster of fan service incidents with small plot bits placed haphazardly in the empty spaces.
This sequel to the 2004 Bite Club mini-series picks up with some of the same characters but a new and separate plot. It takes place in Miami in a world where vampires are an ethnic minority and experience the same racial profiling and discrimination as other minorities in America. While it’s difficult for me to believe that vampires would remain a persecuted minority for more than a couple generations, I was at first willing to suspend my disbelief for a potentially interesting concept. Placing vampires and humans in casual relationships could make for some intriguing characters and situations. Unfortunately, for the most part readers are delivered only absurdly angry and violent characters that seem as though they would be better suited for a Grand Theft Auto subplot.
The subtitle Vampire Crime Unit smacks of television crime drama, but the television facsimile doesn’t end there. The first page opens and immediately overwhelms the reader with names, slang, slurs, and clichés. Not only is the writing confusing here, but as I continued reading, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d heard it all before somewhere between CSI and The Sopranos.
Writers Chaykin and Tischman waste no time including a barrage of overly serious and dramatic Mafioso crime jargon, nudity, and gore. Just as television dialogue often feels false, Bite Club’s drama-infused dialogue simply doesn’t work. No real people ever exchange the ruthless quips, sensationally pointed thoughts, and obvious expletives like every one of Chaykin’s characters do. Much of the dialogue (internal and external) feels contrived and clumsy. Character interactions feel anything but natural and most times characters seem merely to be taking turns reciting rigid lines rather than actually engaging one another. Had the Mafioso style dialogue been written candidly and creatively rather than built around imitation, it might have stood a chance at believability. But as it is, I often found myself grimacing at the strange and awkward exchanges between characters.
Clunky dialogue and embarrassing clichés aside, I was surprised to find on page eight that the character I believed was narrating wasn’t the narrator. Of all the characters appearing in the first five pages, only one is named, and he isn’t present past page four. The absence of names or substantial distinctions between characters not only made identifying the narrator difficult, but created a severely confusing first time read. Characters don’t begin to sort themselves out until after the eight or ninth page, just after a gratuitously long lesbian sex scene. And with respect to explicit content, Bite Club typifies fan service that has very little in the way of thoughtful connection to the story.
My impression of Bite Club only worsened when an utterly boring five page fight and chase scene managed to do little more for the story than display each character’s ability to string together various profanities. And this is the typical consistency of Bite Club. This kind of writing is frustrating for a reader who is looking for at least a little substance within their $2.99 purchase. The book accomplishes very little in its 32 pages and reeks of its television influences. The poor characters and dialogue are made only more painful by the unremarkable artwork. With the plot taking a backseat to sex and violence, Bite Club: Vampire Crime Unit #1 is a rather unimpressive addition to the existing mountain of vampire inspired fiction.