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Comic Book / Crimson

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From vampire victim to The Chosen One

Crimson is a 1998 Urban Fantasy comic book written by Bryan Augustyn and drawn by Humberto Ramos, revolving around a problematic teenager named Alex Elder.

After running away from home to a party late at night with his friends, Alex is attacked by the vampire gang known as the Jelly Bats. While his friends are murdered by the gang, Alex is saved by Ekimus, the last of an ancient race pre-dating humanity, although he is bitten and turned into a vampire by the gang leader Rose.

Coming to terms with his newfound existence, Alex is drawn to a supernatural world and a millennia-long conflict between good and evil. Alex is believed to be The Chosen One having powers beyond that of a normal vampire and he is fated to bring an end to vampirekind. He will face many obstacles and will be assisted by a colorful cast of allies of different backgrounds to achieve his goal.

The series was originally published under Image Comics for its first seven issues and the remaining ones were passed over to WildStorm, making it a total of 24 issues. Two special issues were released, one of them detailing Joe's backstory and how he met Scarlet.


  • Action Girl: Scarlet, the resident monster-hunting lady in red.
  • Affably Evil: Satan himself believe it or not. In his first proper appearance in Issue 7, he is a smooth-talking, easy-going Man of Wealth and Taste who ends up being nicer to Alex than the bloody angels. With that said, he is still very much evil (See Greater-Scope Villain entry) and looks forward to fighting against Michael again in the end times.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Joe frequently calls Alex "Bobo", which means "silly" in Spanish and Portuguese.
  • All Myths Are True: The War in Heaven happened, angels and demons exist and so do vampires, werewolves and a multitude of monsters collectively referred to as "darklings". The Underworld from Classical Mythology holds the ancient enemies of God in chains. The prequel one-shot also reveals that Aztec legends are likely true as well.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: There is a supernatural world with several secret organizations keeping under watch including The Knights Templar. While the specifics are not given, it's implied they have been involved with the Cuban missile crisis.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 1 takes place when the Chalkdyri are released around the world and unleash destruction upon mankind, though the ending shows that mankind is rebuilding after the attack. Had it gone unchecked, it would have escalated to Class X-4 with all of existence being destroyed by Lisseth.
  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: The series ends with the Joe being revealed to have told the events to a friend in a bar.
  • Artistic License – History: D'Orense claims that he is a direct descendant to Bernard of Clairvaux, the Patron Saint of the The Knights Templar. Except Bernard was a celibate monk who had famously jumped into cold water to resist lustful temptations, and he couldn't have possibly fathered any offspring which would result in subsequent descendants; and if he did, that would have been something really shameful for the Templars to admit, much less take pride in it.
  • The Atoner: Ekimus belonged to a race that sided with Lucifer during the War in Heaven and was completely exterminated leaving him The Last of His Kind as well as creating the vampire race with Lisseth. He seeks to redeem himself by mentoring Alex in preventing the upcoming apocalypse.
  • Batman Gambit: The Lisseth's master plan comes to fruition due to this trope. To elaborate Ekimus is told to visit Tartarus and find Sapha, king of the dragons, who was imprisoned alongside Lisseth and knew a way to defeat her. Ekimus is instructed to find a scroll that was supposed to destroy her, but it ends up freeing him from his prison and unleashing all other dragons upon the world. It's revealed Sapha was Lisseth's minion all along.
  • Benevolent Boss: Surprisingly, some of the villains lean towards this trope.
    • For a supposedly sadistic Vampire Monarch, Van Fleet takes surprisingly care of his employees and their families, one of them being Alex's. When his assistant/vampire fledgling Steinman screws up his job epically, he simply fires him instead of punishing him for his failure.
    • Satan is depicted like this in a flashback. When Ekimus was tired of fighting for Hell, he asked if he could return to Earth and live among mortals to atone. Satan gracefully heeded his request and wished him good fortune.
  • Betty and Veronica: Alex has Zophiel (the sensitive and vulnerable Fallen Angel) as the Betty and Scarlet (the sexy monster hunter) is the Veronica. In the end, he ends up with neither as Zophie dies in the final battle and Scarlet joins a convent.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Victor Van Fleet and Lisseth are the primary villains of the series. At least Victor sees it this way, while Lisseth regards him as merely The Dragon. When it turns out she doesn't care about his plans, he turns on her.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Lisseth is destroyed and her apocalyptic plan is averted. However, untold innocents have perished around the world after the dragon attack and the heroes' victory came at cost of Zophie and George's lives (both of whom ascend to Heaven upon their deaths). Alex still remained a vampire, but he embarks on a quest to find the Holy Grail and cure his condition. He is forced to abandon his loved ones, with Scarlet joining a convent and his father becoming Senator following Van Fleet's death, but its implied he will succeed in his quest and returns to them eventually. With that said...
    • Gainax Ending: The final pages reveal that Joe was recounting everything that transpired in the series to a drinking buddy who interrupts him in the part where Alex found the Holy Grail and made himself human again. What makes this confusing is that said friend doesn't buy his story is real and that vampires, demons and monsters don't exist, despite the fact the catastrophic event that happened around the world such as dragons nearly wiping out mankind proves that supernatural beings exist and they nearly brought the apocalypse, or more obviously, the fact Joe clearly looks like a vampire with sharp fangs and yellow eyes. Even that is made ambiguous, since they both walk out of the bar during the daytime with Joe suffering no damaging effects. They even pass by a homeless man that looks like Van Fleet even though he died during the final battle, which Joe briefly pauses to comment on. These things make it unclear whether or not the story was made up or if it really happened.
  • The Chosen One:
    • Alex is a special vampire, specifically the first and the last of his kind, and he is chronicled to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse. Subverted in that he is the latest in a long line of "Chosen Ones" trained by Ekimus to destroy vampirekind, of which Victor originally belonged to.
    • Saint George is God's anointed champion to fight against monsters and serves the same role as Alex.
  • Church Militant: The Templars are the real-life order turned into a religious armed force devoted to hunting monsters.
  • Corrupt Politician: Van Fleet. It can't get any more corrupt than a Vampire Monarch working as a US Senator secretly in league with the Mother of All Vampires to release darkness upon the world. It gets even worse when he reveals aspirations to become president.
  • Covers Always Lie: Issue 11 has Alex facing off against Saint George. In the actual comic, they don't get even close to trading blows and George switches for Alex's side.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: More than one with the Church Militant Knights Templar and the Order of the Red Hood, a family-based clan descended from werewolf hunters.
  • Creepy Child: The aptly named Children of Judas are a group of savage vampire (or vampire-like) children in service to Van Fleet's assistant T.C. Steinman.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Joe kills a cop and steals his police bike to provide a quick getaway to Alex and Scarlet, when he asks where did he get it he only replies.
    Joe: Guy I had dinner with let me use it. Heh.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Possibly subverted. Alex loses both girls he is interested in since Zophie sacrifices herself to save him and Scarlet joins a convent when he embarks on a quest for the Holy Grail. However, it's strongly implied that she is waiting for him to return as a human so they can be together.
  • Disposable Woman: Alex's sweetheart Julie at the start of the comic is brutally murdered by the vampire gang who turned him.
  • The Dragon:
    • Victor Van Fleet had T.C. Steinman, his Jewish fledgling who soon turns into The Starscream. Van Fleet could probably considered one to Lisseth, but he sees himself as a equal partner-in-crime than her underling.
    • Lisseth gains a literal one in form of Sapha, the Dragon King who submits to her authority as soon he is released.
  • Expy:
    • Lisseth is obviously one for Lilith, being Adam's first wife who became a demon.
    • Sapha is inspired by the Beast of Revelation, being a multi-headed dragon whose presence heralds the Apocalypse.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Sapha is a borderline case. A creature that is neither divine or demonic that not even the angels themselves could kill during the war and they had to lock him up on Tartarus. While the heroes manage to injure him, they never came close to killing it. It took banishing Sapha to the void to defeat him.
  • Fallen Angel: Zophiel becomes one after murdering a human in revenge for the death of another angel. She is deprived of her powers, immortality and memories, having to slowly recover them.
  • Fallen Hero: It's revealed that Van Fleet used to be a "chosen one" just like Alex before he became Lisseth's ally.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Rose wears no shirt with two pasties covering her breasts, but any Fanservice is undermined by her horrid, vampire Game Face.
    • Lisseth has a Navel-Deep Neckline and acts very seductive towards the teen-aged Alex, making it very creepy.
    • Ekimus being subjected to Go-Go Enslavement. The fact he is a monstrous inhuman that couldn't possibly be described as attractive on any level makes this far from titillating.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Van Fleet, in contrast to Satan, still comes across as evil when he tries to be nice, such as assuring Alex he wouldn't harm his family:
    Believe me, Alex... I do like you and your family... Or I'd have finished you a long time ago.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: The main protagonist is a vampire fated to save the world and refuses to drink blood (even animal blood). Joe could probably count as one based on his easy-going and kind attitude, but he is too much of a Fully-Embraced Fiend.
  • Fully-Embraced Fiend: Unlike Alex, Joe embraces his nature as a vampire, targeting mostly criminals and drug-pushers. While cops and innocents are usually off-limits, he makes exceptions when he is really hungry.
  • God Needs Prayers Badly: The reason why humans are most favored by the Creator is that his existence is sustained by their collective belief and worship, in contrast to supernatural monsters such as vampires, werewolves, dragons and etc, who are unable to "sustain" him. This is one of the reasons why God shunned the Grigori in the first place and made them susceptible to the Devil's influence.. This turns into a plot-point when the Big Bad's plan to destroy reality starts with wiping out humanity, which would weaken God enough for her to destroy him herself.
  • God Was My Copilot: God appears in one issue as a little black girl who sells flowers to Alex.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: A male variant is featured when Lisseth takes Ekimus prisoner in one issue, strips him shirtless, chains him to a throne and refers to him as her pet.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Satan, naturally. He is far bigger and far more dangerous than Lisseth and all tragedies such as the War in Heaven and turning the Grigori against God can be traced back to him, and it's openly stated he will attempt to take over Heaven again during the end times. Yet, he is a background character who rarely intervenes in the plot and, outside of flashbacks, only appeared in one issue to bail out Alex from being executed by the Angelic Host.
  • Hanging Judge: The Angelic Host is a group of angels that appear to summarily judge mortals on Christmas.
  • Hellbent For Leather: Joe provides Alex with a very tight leather suit to wear as his primary outfit.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Zophiel and Saint George end up pulling these towards the end of the series. They are rewarded with Heaven.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Scarlet's ancestor Marraine used to work in the "comfort business" and wore a red hood as sign of office, marking her as off-limits to lower louts and available only to noblemen.
  • Holier Than Thou: The forces of Light come across as this more often than not. The Archangels are so overzealous that they punish an AIDS victim the same way as a mother who allowed her daughter to die in the cold.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: A recurring theme in the comic is that some human organizations such as the Templars are so fanatically devoted in exterminating all darklings whether they are good or evil, that they extend this treatment towards anything non-human, including in holy nature. One sub-faction within the Templars hunts angels to harvest their organs and body parts into enhancing drugs, their reasoning being that angels were sent as reward from heaven to mortal champions.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Alex loathes Rose for turning him into a vampire, as well as murdering his friends and girlfriend. It turns out, Ekimus was the one who allowed that to happen and fed Alex some of his own blood to make him a special vampire breed. When Alex discover this, he extends this feelings to him as well, though they reconcile afterwards.
  • Interspecies Romance: Alex (a vampire) is in love with Zophiel (a Fallen Angel) and Scarlet (a werewolf).
  • Keystone Army: The Chalkdyri are revealed to be one. When their king Sapha is released from his prison, all of them are freed from the Tree of Life and unleashed upon the world. The heroes have no hope of destroying all dragons unless if they defeat Sapha. After he is banished to the Void of Eternity, the Chalkdyri also disappear.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Saint George. As the divine mortal champion of God, he embodies the ideals of honor and justice that the Templars fail to uphold. When seeing the insane depths they are willing to cross, he turns on them and joins Alex instead.
  • Knight Templar: Quite literally with The Knights Templar who still survive to this day are absolutely zealous in fighting the supernatural threats. Their elite members, the Order of the Dragon, are even worse in this regard since they target angels as well.
  • Monster Progenitor: Lisseth is the Mother of All Vampires, having created them with Ekimus.
  • Monster Town: Sheol City is an underground town located beneath New York, populated by all kinds of darklings.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Scarlet X is a French redheaded Action Girl who wears a rather revealing combat suit.
  • No Party Given: Van Fleet is a US Senator running for president, yet his political inclinations are never specified beyond the fact he is based in New York. Since being a vampire transcends any notion of human politic identities in his own words, it's pretty impossible to classify him as conservative or progressive.
  • Lady in Red: Scarlet X and Lisseth are both clad in sexy red outfits.
  • Little Red Fighting Hood: Scarlet's character and backstory are obviously modelled after Little Red Riding Hood.
  • Legacy Character: Scarlet X is the tenth of her name, as each generational female in her bloodline is called Scarlet.
  • Last of His Kind: Ekimus is the last living Grigori, a race created by God before the humans.
  • Poirot Speak:
    • Scarlet's dialogue features several French words mixed up with English.
    • Joe does it with Spanish.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Van Fleet is unhappy with the the devastation unleashed by the dragons upon the world primarily because it will affect his public view as a Villain with Good Publicity, not out of any moral reservations about said disaster. As far as he concerned, the people can die far all he cares, but at least the place should be intact. When the scope of her plan to undo reality is truly revealed to him, he promptly turns against her because he doesn't see himself governing over anyone.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Chalkdyri is a race of dragons that existed in ancient times around the War in Heaven. They attempted to destroy mankind when it was still young, but they were driven out and imprisoned by the forces of Heaven.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They embody many classical traits such as being sensitive to sunlight, immortal, super strong and the usual stuff. They don't turn into bats (It was merely a rumor spread by the Bram Stoker novel) and they are only affected by religious icons they believe in (a Jewish vampire shrugs off a cross being pointed at him). There is more than one common breed such as the Children of Judas (child-like feral vampires with distinct bite marks) and Alex is a unique vampire in his own right, the first and the last of his kind. Or so Ekimus says, since there were other "Chosen" vampires before him like Van Fleet, who displays the ability to use sorcery.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Their origin is tied with Cain's murder of Abel. More specifically, Cain murdered Abel under the influence of an angelic weapon and ever since then, his descendants were cursed with lycanthropy. This condition is seemingly hereditary rather than transmitted like vampirism. They are capable of transforming at will and retain their control and ability to speak in wolf form. Scarlet reveals that her family is descended from a French High-Class Call Girl who was savagely raped by a werewolf and became pregnant with his children. The hunter who saved her by killing the werewolf ended up marrying her and raised the children to hunt monsters and placed protective seals to prevent them from turning into werewolves, eventually forming the Order of the Red Hood.
  • Playing with Fire: The first and primary power manifested by Alex is the ability to emit and control flames called "firecasting".
  • Rape as Backstory: Scarlet's ancestor was prostitute raped by a werewolf, whose children were cursed with lycanthropy but they were raised and trained by the hunter who saved their mother and killed the werewolf, turning them into instruments of revenge and to hunt down the creatures of the night.
  • Redemption Equals Life: Downplayed. Van Fleet turns on Lisseth during the final battle, not for any altruistic reasons but because he wouldn't get to rule anything if all of existence is destroyed. While he seemingly perishes during the struggle, the ending implies he might still be alive though it's unclear due to its Mind Screw nature...
  • Religious Vampire: At least Joe had kept his belief in God and the Virgin Mary.
  • Scary Black Man: Alex's sire Rose is a Rare Female Example, being a brutal, terrifying female vampire who happens to be black.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Chalkdyri was a dragon race that was imprisoned in Tartarus for trying to destroy mankind while it was still innocent and ignorant. They are accidentally released by Ekimus and proceed to lay waste upon the world.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Jelly Bats, the vampire gang that attacks Alex are evocative of The Lost Boys.
    • Alex's friends who are murdered in the opening are named Hughie, Louie and Dewie.
    • Steinman shrugs off a cross being pointed at him on the account of him being Jewish is based on The Fearless Vampire Killers, where a Jewish vampire does the same thing.
    • Scarlet is an obvious homage to Little Red Riding Hood, being French in origin (just like the original story) and her backstory centering around werewolves.
    • Issue #2 has a homeless vagrant resembling Homer Simpson holding a Springfield plaque.
    • While visiting a Monster Town beneath New York, Alex comments that he feels like he walked into the Episode One's set being surrounded by so many weird-looking monsters. Makes sense that reference was made when the movie was still fresh.
  • The Starscream: Steinman, after being fired by Van Fleet, raids his building and attempts to usurp his position as vampire king.
  • Stripperiffic: Interestingly, this trope is rather equal opportunity: Alex wears a skintight leather suit that in his words "makes him look like a porn star" while his love interest Scarlet wears a suit composed of straps, fishnets and long boots with a cape. Both of them ditch these costumes in following arcs for something more modest.
  • Taking the Bullet: Alex quite literally jumps in front of a policemen line of fire to shield Scarlet. Being a vampire, he obviously survives.
  • Time Abyss: Ekimus belongs to a race that predated mankind's creation and his age is measured by billion.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Joe is a Native-Mexican Catholic vampire.
  • Unexplained Recovery: A homeless man resembling Van Fleet passes by Joe and his friend in the ending. Joe's reaction heavily implies it's him, but it's not known how he survived since his body was set ablaze by Alex.
  • Vampire Bites Suck: More often than not, vampire feedings are not pretty to look at. Even the nicest vampires like Joe are prone to tear their victims apart (although given the nature of his victims, it's justified).
  • Vampire Monarch: Victor Van Fleet is the vampire king in New York masquerading as a US Senator with aspirations of becoming President.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: Alex tries really hard to be this trope. He absolutely refuses to feed on humans like Joe does and is disgusted having to drink from animals, and donated blood doesn't provide the same sustenance.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • T.C. Steinman is Van Fleet's assistant and responsible for keeping the vampires' existence secret. After being fired by Van Fleet, Steinman freaks out, turns into The Starscream and raids his building with armed thugs and kills everyone inside. He is so far gone that he doesn't care he might be exposing their existence to the world.
    • Lisseth is always calm and composed throughout the series, she doesn't even raise her voice when threatening her enemies or minions. Up until the final battle, where Alex manages to burn her off, reducing her to a charred figure. She is reduced to a raving lunatic as a result, ranting about how she will destroy all of creation.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: After becoming a vampire, Alex is forced to abandon his family who believes he had died. At the end of the comic, he makes a point he will return to them once he is cured of his vampirism.