David Hahn's art brings a lot to the table with this comic, and it was as much of a selling point when I bought it as was Chaykin's name on the cover. Hahn has a clean, illustrative style that is almost a counterpoint to the noirish crime story that Chaykin and Tischman are telling in this comic. His art is very reminiscent of Jamie McKelvie's art, of which I am also a big fan (as readers of this blog will also probably know). Hahn has also done art for arcs of Fables and Lucifer for Vertigo.
Bite Club is a story about vampires, family, organized crime and Miami. Any of those are enough to make any story complicated. The story starts with the murder of Eduardo Del Toro, and his being thrown from a Miami high-rise. This brings prodigal son Leto, America's first ordained vampire Catholic priest, back home to deal with the death and his family. Conflicts start almost immediately with Leto's sister Risa and mother Arabella. Leto is given control over the family's businesses by his father's will, setting the conflict against his life as a priest with that of the head of a criminal organization.
One of the primary money makers for the Del Toro family is a drug called Phantasmagoria, a synthetic drug that is like crystal meth for vampires.
A lot goes on in this six issue mini-series, without the book coming across as cluttered. It sold well enough to spawn a second mini-series, so I must not have been the only fan. Chaykin and Tischman bring a lot of plot threads together in this: from the murder of Eduardo to the return of Leto's last girl friend before the priesthood to the conflicting loyalties of family and church in Leto's head to Risa's jealousies and less that pure feelings towards her younger brother. All of these balls, and a few others, are kept in the air with a deft touch by the writers. This story is so much more than the buzz words of saying this comic is True Blood meets The Sopranos. Despite their being vampires and murderous criminals, Chaykin and Tischman create a cast of characters that you care about and are interested in seeing what they do next.
The ending is a bit of a shocker. I won't give it away but I will say that just as Leto figures out who he wants to be and what he wants to do with his "life," it is taken away from him, in proper noir style. This isn't a comic for the faint of heart, or those who are easily offended. It is not an all ages comic. There is murder, gratuitous bloodshed, violence, interesting and unique sexual activities (to those who have mainstream attitudes towards sex), a touch of an incestuous relationship between the brother and sister, a lot of nudity and drug use. Like I said, not for everyone. Of course, I would probably be disappointed with a vampire story that didn't have at least some of the items off of that list in it.
Is it worth picking up for yourself? Definitely. This is a vampire story that does not revel in the cliches of the genre, nor does it try to be "ground breaking" by violating those cliches in a stupid way. The characters of the story are well-realized and have motivations that drive themselves and the plot of the story. I own this in a smaller than comic-sized format that packaged all six issues for $10. It is worth that price, and more. This is a comic that I find myself re-reading whenever it happens to catch my eye on the book shelf.