25th May2017

‘Anno Dracula 1895: Seven Days in Mayhem #3′ Review

by Dean Fuller

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

Anno_Dracula_3_Cover-A

This has been great fun so far, a nice blend of interesting story, familiar though slightly different literary characters, and a whole load of alternate universe world building. Hugely entertaining stuff. This series pretty much had me at Queen Victoria marrying Count Dracula. What’s not to love? I have been waiting though for the Council of the Seven Days, and specifically our heroine Kate Reed, to really develop into living, breathing characters. Up to now they have seemed more like ploy devices at times, albeit very enjoyable plot devices.

So where were we? Well, The Council was attacked by Count Dracula’s Grey Men. Most escaped, with the help of Fah Lo Suee and the criminal Limehouse Ring, though Monday and Thursday were captured. The Limehouse Ring want Kate to use her old friend Penelope Churchward to try and bring down Dracula and his regime. Penelope is part of the vampire establishment, so much so the Prime Minister Lord Ruthven has put her in charge of Dracula’s 10 Year Anniversary celebrations. Both strands of the story met at the Tower of London where Penelope ran into the feared Graf von Orlok (Nosferatu), as we learned the Council of Seven Days had had more than a single traitor.

We kick off with the surviving Council members, or ‘Days’, booby trapping their HQ before The Grey Men arrive. When they do, not all of them survive the blast. Gabriel Syme, ‘Thursday’, who we now know to be an agent working for Dracula, rejoins the group, claiming ‘Monday’ was the traitor and that he had killed him. Well, technically he’s telling the truth. The group decide to lay low awhile until things calm down. Meanwhile, Penelope survives an interesting meeting with Orlok at the Tower of London, and the real intentions of The Lord of Strange Deaths and his Limehouse Ring start to crystallize. He regards not only Kate as part of his plan, rather a than a joint alliance, but the other members of the Limehouse Ring as expendable also. The stakes are rising.

Probably the most important part of this issue is the meeting between Penelope and old friend Kate. On opposite sides of the conflict yet seemingly still friends, and both seemingly wanting something from the other without overtly asking for it. Kate needs Penelope to assist with the plot to take down Dracula, willingly or not, Penelope wants Kate to help her with the preparations for the Jubilee, possibly to keep her out of trouble or just to keep her eye on her. An interesting character interlude. Kate’s meeting with Penelope hasn’t escaped her suspicious colleagues on the Council who are still trying to find the traitor in their midst. Big boss Sunday though not only vouches for her, but praises her for giving them an opportunity to infiltrate the Jubilee and blow Dracula up. Boom time.

More of the same can sound like a bit of an insult, but here it is a compliment. Kim Newman started at a very high level and has not dipped off that yet. All the characters get some quality page time, plot threads were nicely weaved, and scenes cut and intercut just like a TV show. Fine work. Paul McCaffrey’s art still hasn’t completely won me over, but his style seems to suit this book a little more as time goes on. His pacing is pretty good, though he does have a fondness for multiple small panels per page that can get swamped by text. As some of that text is pretty small in an old fashioned font, a little squinting can be sometimes necessary. But then I’m an old fogey, so maybe it’s just me.

Great work by Kim Newman again. I see a cult following on the horizon for this book.

**** 4/5

Anno Dracula 1895: Seven Days in Mayhem #3 is out now from Titan Comics.

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