The previous issue of Penny Dreadful…
We meet again, Dreadfuls, despite the series finale bomb dropping on us all. Alas! Alack! Yet the adventures continue in the comic book series at least. In the finale, Malcolm challenges Dracula for his callous use of Mina to get to Vanessa. Comic #1 introduced us to her husband, Jonathan Harker, shortly after Mina has disappeared. Comic #2 picks up with a slightly different feel, starting with the cover:
The group takes shelter from Dracula in a church where Jonathan recounts his love for Mina and their wedding in that very chapel, questioning Malcolm’s absence. As per usual, Malcolm arrogantly denies he rejected his daughter, only her choice, which to her was one and the same. After tense testosterone moments, he goes on to show Vanessa through her Scorpion Sight how the demon began his seduction of Mina during a client dinner. After losing time and memories, he wakes to see her outside with Dracula, believing he is hallucinating, but, as we know, enthrallment is in play.
Jonathan’s tale has hieroglyphs scratched through it in red, recalling the Book of the Dead markings on Season 1’s vampire, when Sir Lyle was called in to interpret them. Mina takes ill with a fever and unslakable thirst. The truth is revealed when Jonathan tries to lead her through the Lord’s Prayer and Dracula curses him through her. Still unsure on a course of action, he invites his two sidekicks, her dearest friends Quincey and Lucy, to visit and finds her straddling the dead nurse, surrounded by vampire brides.
Possessed by the Master, she gives them 3 seconds to leave the house and live, but, much like Malcolm and the Dreadfuls, they toss caution to the wind and fight. The art transitions to blacks and purples during the fight, which ends with Dracula spiriting her away in his vampire form. Since then, he’s not heard from either until Vanessa’s visit. The two groups split to confer, and we overhear Jonathan’s intent to kill Mina. Perhaps the most interesting development is Sembene’s promising explanation that Malcolm believes in Vanessa’s powers because of what they saw in Africa… Finally! A great many Dreadfuls were left wondering what happened to them there and what event bound them together. I can’t wait to hear how that unfolds.
The art in this book as compared to last was not quite as enjoyable. I liked the transition from austere to vibrant, but the sketch style with hieroglyphs over all was distracting and makes Jonathan seem like the only attractive person in the bunch. Plot-wise, without knowing that Vanessa has Scorpion Sight through touch, the reader might not have understood that was happening. I was also skeptical that Mina would be best friends with a Texas cowboy, who seems to be a blatant Ethan substitute until Vanessa hires him to be the gunman. His introduction and illustration felt cliche. My favorite page is this single shot of Dracula with Mina, simply because it conveys the lure and romantic horror in bright contrast with previous cells featuring the Puritan Harker, showing how well and truly screwed he is.
Welp! So much for true love, eh, Jonathan?
The comic includes a nice feature on the vampire designs in the show, calling on the talents of makeup artist Nick Dudman from the Harry Potter films. There are several concept photos and prosthetic designs and insight into the hiring process for the right actor, the previously unknown, self-submitted Robert Nairne, to convey the physical strangeness of the ectomorphic creature. That story in itself is worth the read and a nice flashback to the complex Season 1. Overall, I am enjoying the backstory this series provides and the extra covers are fantastic and haunting.
Penny Dreadful #2