World of Darkness: Crimson Thaw #2 is the second installment of the sequel to Vampire: The Masquerade: Winter’s Teeth. Unlike the first ten issues of the comic, it follows vampires and werewolves. Both of comic book series are in White Wolf’s World of Darkness, though, and specifically the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Crimson Thaw is set directly after the events of Winter’s Teeth, though, and not something you want to read on its own.
Cecily Bain is no longer the central character but part of an ensemble that consists of herself, the Anarchs, Calder Wendt, and a group of werewolves that believe the former to be pure evil. Which, given they’re vampires, is not an entirely unreasonable assumption. The previous book ended with the seeming death of Mitch Pendergrass and a declaration of war by the
I particularly liked this comic because it has a kind of black humor element to it that provides a lot of information regarding the Garou (werewolves). The Garou were depicted as hyper-competant and ruthless in the previous book but now we get to find out just how utterly they’ve misread the situation. The story is actually a comedy of errors based around the fact the two races have almost nothing in common or no point of reference.
The vampires are primarily motivated by self-interest and a very materialist existence where only their needs matter. They are spiritually dead and what little religion they do possess is usually based around a corruption of Judeao-Christian mythology with Caine as their Dark Father. Werewolves are very spiritual, suicidally self-sacrificing, and worship the Earth Mother Gaia that they know to be literally true.
I won’t spoil the plot of the book but, essentially, one of the vampires in Saint Minneapolis buys a business for his girlfriend/vessel and puts up some magical protections on it. The business is on Garou land, and they take this as a masterful power move to show their dominance over the region. What is a completely unrelated act by a single vampire becomes part of a vast conspiracy because the idea the vampires aren’t some hostile force always plotting against them doesn’t fit into their worldview.
It’s doubly funny because the vampires, for once, aren’t up to any evil and have no interest in starting a conflict with the Garou. Because vampires don’t become involved in conflicts for evil’s sake. They do it because it benefits them and starting a war for no reason isn’t their style. The Garou believe everything is a conflict between good vs. evil, though, so the vampires don’t need a motive in their view.
The art is very good in these books and manages to be a lot more grounded than typical comic book action scenes. The expressions on everyone and designs are well done, fully bringing out the urban fantasy/horror mixture that characterizes the series. Sadly, the comic feels like its been truncated from a six issue story to a three issue story and that seriously is hurting its pacing.