I am smitten. I have a new favorite vampire. The Hellsing manga series is fabulous. My first manga, by the way. It has actually been harder than I thought to re-train my eyes to read right to left. I read the panels right to left ok but I keep wanting to read the dialogue from left to right.
The really fascinating thing about the series so far is the dead-seriousness with which it takes religion. Catholicism and Protestantism are featured prominently. The Hellsing Organization is fiercely protestant and fashions itself as an organization to protect the Church of England. Their counterpart is the Iscariot XIII Organization, a secret sector of the Vatican charged with actively destroying heretics, demons, etc. “For Dogma we would kill even our founders” is one of their mottos. Hirano does not in the margin that the leader of Iscariot XIII is “kind of insane …. creepy!” for saying that. In any case, the stories are rife with scripture quotations, crosses, religious organizations, secret societies, etc. The whole thing has a John Constantine kind of feel to it.
I’m not quite sure where Alucard, Hellsing’s vampire, fits into all this. I’m sure the next volumes will reveal all. Alucard DOES have a “holy” gun (called an “anti-freak” gun) that allows him to destroy the undead pretty effortlessly. One gun is called “The Jackal.” On it is inscribed “Jesus is in Heaven Now.”
Here are some of my favorite panels from when Integra Hellsing, the current head of the Hellsing Organization, first discovers Alucard hidden deep within the bowels of Hellsing Headquarters.
Much to Integra’s surprise, after slaughtering everyone in the room, Alucard bows and swears his alligience to her. The lines are so sinueous. Alucard is always drawn with unnaturally long limbs. It gives him this odd lankiness that is rather compelling and graceful. I think it’s meant to mark even his physical difference from the humans? It is both beautiful and freakish. Look how his hands are down past his knees in the image of Alucard revived.
The funny thing is that he remains fiercely loyal to her through the stories. So there is no “I’m a vampire and I’m dying to get away from the Hellsings but a spell prevents me.” No, Alucard seems to hold the Hellsing family in highest regard. I suppose I’ll find out why that is later as well.