"Brothers Dracul #5" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by AfterShock Comics
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Mirko Colak
Colored by Maria Santaolalla
Lettered by Simon Bowland
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on August 29th, 2018
Vlad and Radu were once brothers, forced to hunt vampires for their captors. Years later, Vlad would become a feared warrior while Radu became...something else. What could have driven them apart? Would it surprise you to hear that it was a woman? It's not what you think though. One side is fighting for love while the other is fighting for death.
Brothers Dracul #5 touches upon the future of these two characters. Up until this point, we've wondered what steps Vlad would take to become the Impaler and the inspiration for Dracula. Now we get a glimpse into 20 years into his future and a new confrontation between him and his brother. It adds some great context to the series as a whole and I wish it was done more often and not just saved for the final issue.
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This is a little frustrating too because there's still a lot in that 20-year span left unanswered. I would love to see writer Cullen Bunn flesh this out more, as there is a ton of potential for dynamite storytelling for both brothers. I'm left with more questions and wanting more, which is a good and a bad thing.
As hardened as Vlad is in the past, he's even more so in the future. What has he been through for the past two decades that has turned him so dark and weary? Artist Mirko Colak ages Vlad to this battle-worn warrior that's not ready to settle down any time soon. This provides a nice juxtaposition with his brother, who has also been through Hell, but still has a softness to him. Perhaps Radu still has his soul while Vlad has lost it long ago.
Ermine, the woman that came between Vlad and Radu, has been turned into a vampire, reveling in the bloodshed her new clan has caused. Vlad cares deeply for her, but he has to force himself to put her down. That's easier said than done. Radu, on the other hand, is ready to stop her dead in her tracks. This is what they're fighting over. After everything they've been through, it comes down to the life of a vampire.
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There are times that I'm surprised Brothers Dracul #5 isn't literally dripping with blood. Colorist Maria Santaolalla drenches these pages in the lifeforce of so many fallen warriors. Sometimes it's like they're just soaked in it, like a sponge of red was splattered across the images. This contrasts well with the pale skin of Ermine and the cool blue of the night. The blood stands out.
There's a scene in this issue where a vampire's body explodes into a burst of swarming insects. I hope you weren't reading this review while eating. While you don't see all the bugs about, you definitely feel their presence in both the reactions of the characters and in Simon Bowland's letters. There are a bunch of “Bzzz” sound effects popping up all over the page in an oppressive fashion.
Brothers Dracul is another in a growing list of solid horror-themed historical fiction. It just feels like it left some stuff on the table. I hope that means that we'll get to see more from these characters soon, especially since the word “End” on the last page has a question mark after it. As it stands, their story is unfinished, but it leaves a bloody trail through the history books.