26th Jun2017

‘Anno Dracula 1895: Seven Days in Mayhem #4′ Review

by Dean Fuller

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

Anno_Dracula_4_Cover-A

This has been a fun world to visit over the last 3 issues. Full of ‘new’ characters inspired by their classic literary counterparts, it is a new story that still feels strangely familiar. Kim Newman has pulled a Alan Moore by tying together characters in a story that weren’t meant to ever meet, has given them all a horror spin, and now they all seem very at home with each other. Dracula, The Lord of Strange Deaths (Fu Manchu), The Professor (Moriarty), Graf Von Orlok (Nosferatu) are but a few faces in a sea of near familiar ones, with roles both large and small to play.

The main pieces on our board right now though are Kate Reed, The Limehouse Ring, The Council of Seven Days, and Penelope Churchward. If you came in late you have missed far too much to recap, but essentially The Council of Seven Days is working against Dracula but has a traitor in its ranks. Kate Reed is working against Dracula but is friends with Penelope Churchward, who is organising Dracula’s Jubilee celebrations. The Limehouse Ring is a criminal organisation helping the Council to defeat Dracula, but not, surprise surprise, for non-selfish reasons. In other words, everyone  had better watch their backs. It’s been wonderfully threaded stuff, plot threads weaved in and out of events large and small.

Speaking of big events, last issue ended on the revelation that Council leader Sunday plans to blow up Dracula and his supporters at the Tower of London on his Jubilee day. Kate is not convinced about this, leading as it will to a lot of innocent deaths and no guarantee Dracula will even die. Her reluctance is viewed with suspicion by Council member Christina Light, who thinks Kate is the traitor, and the Council attack Kate. Luckily for her, the Daughter of the Dragon had been following her and rescues her in the nick of time. Kate now is in the odd position of having to stop her former colleagues from committing an act against Dracula, for the greater good. Can you spell ‘moral dilemma’.

We move forward to the evening of the Jubilee, as Kate turns herself in so she can warn friend Penelope what is about to happen. Penelope has been busy arranging things and Dracula and his party are on their way. Kate insists she is not responsible for the planned assault, but nobody believes her. In fact, the behaviour of people on both sides, or at least some of them, is starting to seem a little odd. Why are  Christina Light of the rebel Council, and Count Orlok, Dracula’s right hand man and in charge of the Tower of London, seemingly friendly? Why have all the Council been manipulated against Kate? I smell a conspiracy. Kate tries her best to defuse the bomb, which she seems to do (if indeed it was ever a real bomb) but is caught red handed with the bomb by Dracula’s people. Set up as the fall guy,er girl. But by whom?

Fine storytelling again by Kim Newman. There was a little bit of jumping around and lack of detail in some parts, and some plot points just discarded or left, but there is so much going on it is no wonder. Newman has built the story up nicely to a strong resolution next month, as we become aware that Kate has been being set up from the start, seemingly by people on both sides. Paul McCaffrey’s art has been solid and dependable from the start, and is growing on me the more I see it. I do like the way he designs his pages, that’s a definite strong point.

Who thought a book titled Dracula, but without an appearance directly of Dracula, could be so good? Not missing him at all.

More than enough to sink your teeth into here each month without him.

**** 4/5

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