"Anno Dracula: 1895 – Seven Days in Mayhem #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Titan Comics
Written by Kim Newman
Illustrated by Paul McCaffrey
Colored by Kevin Enhart
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 22nd, 2017
Every so often I'm reminded that there are entire areas of fiction that I am completely unfamiliar with. One such example is the Anno Dracula series of novels from writer Kim Newman. They've been going strong since 1992 and they were entirely off my radar, which is a shame because they sound like something that would be right up my alley. The series follows an alternate history where Dracula has married the Queen of England and rules Great Britain. Newman has brought the series into comics with 1895: Seven Days of Mayhem.
The comic opens in an exciting manner, with Dracula's enemies preparing for a large naval assault at the Frisian Islands. There is an armada of ships, submarines, and zeppelins preparing for the attack, only to get ambushed by the vampire's forces. Artist Paul McCaffrey delivers an impressive two-page spread which you can see in the preview images included here. Vampires are flying through the air in hang glider-like contraptions, complete with flight goggles. A massive kraken surges up from the depths to decimate the ships. It's an incredible scene of supernatural destruction.
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Unfortunately, those opening pages are the high point of the book. The rest is a dry introduction to the characters and their lives, mostly through narration exasperatedly going through details like the back of a trading card. You get their name, basic background, hometown, and batting average. This does not translate to relatable characters, which makes the events in the remainder of the issue lack any sort of feeling. I don't care what's happening to these people because I have absolutely no investment in them.
This is a bummer because the overall premise is still very solid. It follows this underground revolutionary group that includes several vampires as they plot to overthrow Dracula's tyrannical rule. There's a traitor in their midst and they're struggling to figure out which one of them it is. The bloodsuckers walk out in the open as well thanks to Dracula's rise to power.
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Speaking of the vampires, McCaffrey has some great designs here too. There are some that pass for human except for the signature fangs. They also have a redness around their eyes, which is a nice touch from colorist Kevin Enhart. This gives them this undead feel. Others have more of a Nosferatu look, complete with pointy ears. There's this one vampire in a crowd scene that made me chuckle. It's this portly guy with checkered pants, a bow tie, and glasses. He's holding a small pig with both hands and he's about to bite into its head like it was a hot dog. This is amidst a bunch of drunks and prostitutes. This guy is paying them no mind. Instead, he's about to chow down on this piglet.
Anno Dracula presents an intriguing premise that is off to a very slow start. I hope with the introductions out of the way, the book can pick up some speed and flesh out the characters a bit more as it has some great potential. At the bare minimum, it's exposed me to this series which I'll have to explore further with the novels to learn more about.