'V Wars' Season 1 is a poor adaptation of a brilliant comic series but holds the potential to become a path-breaking show
Ian Somerhalder plays Dr. Luther Swann, a man determined to find a cure for the pathogen that causes vampirism to help his best friend, Michael Fayne, who is Patient Zero.
When Ian Somerhalder's 'V Wars' was announced, fans were understandably excited. Somerhalder, best known for playing Damon Salvatore in 'The Vampire Diaries', was to star in and executive produce a vampire show that was promised to be different from what we have seen before.
Somerhalder plays Dr. Luther Swann, a man determined to find a cure for the pathogen that causes vampirism to help his best friend, Michael Fayne, who is Patient Zero as well as the leader of the vampire faction as a result. In this show, vampires are called "Bloods".
We had figured that the show would divert from the comics it is based on of the same name written by Jonathan Maberry. However, on completing the first season of 'V Wars', it is clear that the show has adapted only the bare bones of the comics while leaving behind the themes that made the comics stand out.
In the comics, Luther is a pacifist and wants to find a way for vampires and humans to co-exist, having accepted vampires as a separate species of humans. However, in the comics, Luther is convinced that vampirism is a disease, something that is "very wrong" and wants to find a cure for it and change his friend back -- never once considering that Michael would prefer to stay that way.
But this is not all. In the comics, we also see friendly vampires, even societies where humans and vampires live together peacefully. But this is ignored for the show, instead portraying the vampires to be snarling, hissing monsters who violently kill their victims. This violence is there in the comics, but so is the violence perpetrated by humans -- something we don't really see in the show. In doing so, 'V Wars', the show completely misses the point of 'V-Wars', the comics.
The most disappointing thing about the show, however, is its treatment of female characters. Within the first episode itself, Luther's wife, Jessica Palmer Swann, is killed to propagate his story, and never being referred to by name after that. Whatever female characters do become relevant are soon killed off, like Secretary Claire O'Hagan and Luther's lab assistant, Teresa -- save for a handful.
But those that survive are not treated well either. Danika Dubov is merely a femme fatale who becomes very different once she gets involved with Michael, and Kaylee Vo is told that she "improved" because she starts showing emotions when something bad happens, not to mention that a major plotline of hers from the comics is given to a white man. Then there is Mila Dubov who is easily the most interesting character -- a vampire who hates that she has to drink blood and is an anti-Blood vigilante, though we did not get nearly enough of her.
While 'V Wars' promised to give a discourse on major issues the world faces today like climate change and the refugee crisis, these are only referred to in snippets. Further, instead of using the original comics' strong storylines, 'V Wars' instead tries to do too many things that have already been done before. In fact, Michael and Luther's friendship is strongly reminiscent of Damon and Stefan Salvatores' brotherly bond.
With the political struggle where one side of humans want to kill all the vampires while one side of humans want to cure them and with the vampires fighting to be recognized as a separate species was reminiscent of 'X-Men: The Last Stand'.
But all hope is not lost for 'V Wars'. If the show does return for the second season, we hope the writers try to be more faithful to the comics and Luther understands the fallibility in his understanding that vampirism is a disease and loses his savior complex. We also hope that Mila gets a much bigger role in the second season, as with Kaylee Vo.
'V Wars' the comics succeeded because of the narrative that is provided on the human experience, especially one that is very relevant today. By incorporating the elements from the comics that explore these issues we face today, 'V Wars' the show will only be elevated.
All episodes of the first season of 'V Wars' are now streaming on Netflix.