Written by Chris King | Art by Louie De Martinis | Published by Titan Comics
Like most Penny Dreadful fans I was really disappointed when the show’s creator, John Logan, announced the third season would be the last. Again like most, I don’t buy into his statements that he only ever planned three seasons to tell Vanessa’s story. I believe Vanessa’s story was always intended to be three seasons long, but that the show would continue on with the other characters, who clearly had story arcs still waiting to be told. Interestingly enough, this prequel sort of hints at things that should have been but never were. This issue is, of course, the fifth and final one of this prequel story, but let’s hope not of further stories set in the Penny Dreadful universe.
To briefly recap, Vanessa and Sir Malcolm now know the circumstances of Mina ‘s abduction by The Master. Mina is of course Sir Malcolm’s daughter and Vanessa’s best friend, and wife of Jonathan Harker. Harker himself has now been infected and is starting to turn, just like Mina has, but before he fully does Vanessa tries to use his mental connection to The Master to try and locate him. They should be careful what they wish for, as the undead Mina appears to her husband and tells him the Master wants them to find him, as we all know from Season Three he covets Vanessa as she is destined to be the ‘Mother of Evil’. Sir Malcolm, meanwhile, is becoming more acquainted with just what exactly they are facing, these blood-sucking ‘vampires’, as he is attacked in the coach on the way to find The Master.
As is usually the way in Penny Dreadful, tragedy is never far away. Harker, ashamed of his attack on Sir Malcolm and fearing the increasing control of The Master, commits suicide by shooting himself. He does reveal the trap though, and tells Vanessa for the first time of the prophecy that she will have a protector. Again, as we all know, that protector will come in the form of sometime werewolf/ sometime cowboy Ethan Chandler. So guess who pops up right at the end? That’s right. A nice little chat between Vanessa and Ethan that foreshadows a lot of pain and heartache yet to come, but a perfect way to end this prequel.
I really enjoyed this. This 5 issue series has felt completely organic, completely integrated into the Penny Dreadful universe we followed across three seasons. The characters felt real, like their on screen counterparts, and spoke and acted as we expect them too. The plotting was very clever, taking care not to contradict anything we already now know but also trying to add little bits here and there, filling in a gap over here, adding a little embellishment there. The Quincey/ Lucy subplot for example still has plenty of road to run, and I assume we’ll be seeing them in future storylines as they search for a cure for vampirism.
I loved the stylised artwork. Although it may not have been to everyone’s taste, it oozes atmosphere and foreboding as it should, with almost photorealistic likenesses. The best panels are the close-up facial shots of the characters, especially Vanessa. The colouring is also excellent, enhancing the mood of the story throughout. Very dark, muted colours for the scenes involving the darkest parts of the story, lighter hues for the very few scenes which are a little happier.
The biggest compliment I can offer is that while this issue is very good, the prequel as a whole feels like a perfect addition to the three series of Penny Dreadful. If this was filmed as a special, it would stand up mighty fine.
Nice to revisit these people and places again.
Penny Dreadful #5 is out now from Titan Comics.