26th Apr2017

‘Anno Dracula 1895: Seven Days in Mayhem #2′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Kim Newman | Art by Paul McCaffrey | Published by Titan Comics

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The first issue of the Anno Dracula 1895 comic series, from the mind of Kim Newman, threw in enough ideas and concepts to fill a dozen issues of most other series. I say ‘new’, but the series grew out of Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula world he has been building through his novels. In what has become a familiar genre now, Newman creates his own fictional stories using real world people and events, but always with a twist. Queen Victoria marrying Count Dracula for example, or Jack the Ripper murdering prostitutes because they were actually vampires. A lot of clever ideas bobbing around gave me extremely high hopes for this 5 part series.

Very tough to give a complete summary of last issue if you missed it, but essentially Count Dracula has been in control of The British Empire for 10 years, in which time he has spread vampirism throughout that world. He is opposed by some though, including liberal leaning vampire Kate Reed, our hero of sorts. Kate is also known as Wednesday, of the secret Council of the Seven Days, a group dedicated to fighting Dracula. A group that Kate has just been informed has a traitor amongst its six other members. Oh, and a group now under attack by the Grey Men, Dracula’s secret police.

Which is where Anno Dracula 1895 #2 starts, as the group fight back against the police. After some fisticuffs, some of the group escape, though Monday and Thursday are captured. Kate and Paul (Tuesday) escape with the help of Fah Lo Suee, The Daughter of the Dragon, heir to a vast criminal empire, and no lover of Dracula herself. While Kate escapes we catch up with her childhood friend Penelope Churchward, a pillar of vampire society and tasked with arranging the celebrations for Dracula’s 10 year anniversary by Lord Ruthven, the Prime Minister himself. She takes herself off to the Tower of London, the focal point of
Dracula’s administration. While meeting with several people she also observes Special Branch there, having returned from the earlier raid.

Kate, meanwhile, is meeting The Limehouse Ring, the people who control London. Her father, The Lord of Strange Deaths, Irma Vep, a cat burglar of sorts, Captain Macheath also known as Mac The Knife for his throat cutting tastes, and The Napoleon of Crime. They tell Kate they have common purpose against Dracula, and that they need Kate to try and exercise leverage with her friend Penelope. Penelope who has just walked in on the brutal torture of captured Day, Monday, also known as Alexander Ossipon. We get a couple of dramatic last pages that I won’t spoil, but suffice it to say that there may very well be more than one traitor on the Council, and despite Penelope’s status as a pillar of vampire society she may not be entirely safe herself.

Another very good issue. Although not quite as full to the brim as last issue, still very, very entertaining. The attention to detail is very well done, and the character bios at the beginning, along with the books that have inspired them, are a godsend. I also liked the Limehouse Ring, and the characters similarities to existing ones (The Lord of Strange Deaths instead of Fu Manchu, Napoleon of Crime instead of Professor Moriarty etc) but every page had something to enjoy. Newman keeps a handful of mysteries juggling at all times, which keeps us as readers on our collective toes. Who is Sunday? Can any of the Council of Seven Days be trusted? Are the Limehouse Rings truly allies?

Still undecided on Paul McCaffrey’s art. It certainly doesn’t detract from the story, but as decent as it is I just feel there may have been better artists out there more suited to this particular material. Perhaps the colouring takes away some of that grim and gritty this world feels as though it needs a bit more of, but McCaffrey’s art just lacks that little extra edge needed for my money.

Overall, great work. Not sure who’s having more fun, Kim Newman or me.

**** 4/5

Anno Dracula 1895: Seven Days in Mayhem #2 is out now from Titan Comics.

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