15th Jun2017

‘Penny Dreadful #3′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Chris King | Art by Jesus Hervas | Published by Titan Comics

PennyDreadful_2_3_Cover-A

To copy a little American sports vernacular, this series has been hitting it out of the park with its first two issues. A perfect continuation from the three seasons we enjoyed on TV, this ‘season four’ has not missed a beat. We have seen a nice blend of reintroducing and re-establishing characters, and the development of several plot threads around the main plot. That main plot had so far given central billing to Mr. Lyle and Ethan Chandler, but the characters circle has widened as stories develop, and Catriona, Sir Malcolm, and Dr Seward are now all centre stage, not to mention a little cameo from Lily as well.

Last issue of course saw a kick ass zombie fight at the British Museum, narrow escapes, Belial ascendant, and the hint of a resurrection for Vanessa. It also saw Ethan, with Dr Seward’s help, doing his best to try and tame the wolf spirit that inhabits him, with decidedly mixed results. It was, as we like to say, ‘all kicking off’. So, naturally, we start this issue with a quieter tone, as Dr Lyle brings Sir Malcolm and Catriona up to speed with the story of Belial and Princess Amunet, a story that goes back to Ancient Egypt. Amunet, of course, had been the spirit that possessed Vanessa Ives at one point, and the story shows that Amunet had been courted by Lucifer, or Set as he was known in Egypt, to be his lover and ‘Mother of Evil’ and reign at his side. Hmm, this all sounds familiar.

Amunet resists, but becomes increasingly possessed, much as Vanessa did in Nineteenth Century London. Belial is banished, being blamed unjustly, but is then recruited into becoming Lucifer’s servant, and leading a great army of the undead. Amunet’s betrothed Amun-Ra, who she does not love, turns out to be Dracula himself, and both are fighting to have Amunet as their Queen. Belial and Amun-Ra fight, but ultimately Amunet kills herself to avoid either side claiming her. Amun-Ra flees, but Belial desperately tries to bring her back, making a pact with the witch that turned him to Lucifer. Belial sacrifices himself, but Dracula intervenes to prevent any resurrection. Let’s call it a draw.

So Amunet was the ‘Mother of Evil’ who was then resurrected as Vanessa Ives. History repeated itself as, once again, Vanessa chose to sacrifice herself to save the world. However, as Dr Lyle points out, Belial can resurrect her if he also possesses the heart of the man she loves. A revelation unfortunately that comes just at the moment that Ethan Chandler returns to London. An issue that may divide opinion a little. A s a huge fan of the show I enjoyed learning a bit more of the timeline, a bit more of the background to the conflict between Lucifer and Dracula, a conflict that ultimately shaped the direction of Penny Dreadful. To a neutral though, this may have been a little confusing and possibly not what they were expecting.

Another solid issue. Good writing from Chris King, seemingly enjoying filling in those areas the TV show never quite had the time to do, and never letting up on the pace. The art by Jesus Hervas definitely suits the dark and moody atmosphere of late Nineteenth Century England and London, but not quite so much Ancient Egypt. I felt cleaner art for the grandeur of Ancient Egypt would have suited better, to emphasize the corruption of Amun-Ra’s lair for example, rather than it all blending in. Some very nice panels in there though.

So, a breather from the plot to tell an important back story. Not for everyone, but most definitely a sign that Chris King is playing the long game, filling in gaps and adding depth to the world of Penny Dreadful as he goes along.

Miss Ives would approve.

**** 4/5

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