12th Sep2017

‘Penny Dreadful #5′ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

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

PennyDreadful_2_5_Cover-A

Two months after the last issue, the one that finished the first story arc and directly led into this new one, we’ve had time to catch our breath a little. Usually these days we lament the lack of content in some comics, with twenty odd pages you can read in five minutes. Penny Dreadful almost had the exact opposite problem, cramming in perhaps several issues worth of story into just four. It all added to the sense of fun though, events happening at breakneck speed. If the new story arc is just half as entertaining as the last we are in for a treat.

The last issue left us with several huge bombshells. Lucifer basically won, and has been reborn in London. Sir Malcolm, in the process of trying to defeat him, has apparently been killed (I say apparently as you never quite know), and Ethan has finally been reunited with Brona, his dead girlfriend. Well, she was dead before Victor Frankenstein resurrected her as undead feminist Lily. And, of course, the resurrected corpse of Vanessa Ives is walking around…Although the first arc concentrated on the core group of Ethan, Sir Malcolm, Dr Lyle, and Catriona Hartdegan, the cameos by Victor, Dr Jekyll, and Kaetenay also show Chris King starting to widen out the scope of his story.

As Ethan processes the fact his dead girlfriend is back, albeit a very much changed version, Catriona is trying to save the day against the Vanessa/ Lucifer hybrid and her legion of the undead. Think of her as a sort of Victorian Black Widow, kicking undead butt all over the place while saving Victor from falling under Lucifer’s spell. Lily’s none too shabby either, doing her best Buffy impersonation and slaying the undead as well as Belial comes for Ethan. The girls are certainly saving the men’s behinds at the moment. Keeping the ‘girl power’ theme going, but not in a good way, Vanessa has empowered some of the undead as her ‘angels of hell’, and saved the life of the Duke of Kent so he can serve her with a very specific job.

The widening of the circle continues as we drop in on Dorian Gray, up to his usual naughty shenanigans. Unfortunately for him, he rather owes Lucifer a big favour with his cursed picture and eternal life and all that, and Lucifer wants him to make good on it. Dorian realises his quest for eternal youth and beauty was never a gift but a curse, doomed for eternity to kill for Lucifer. Victor and Catriona have made their way to Bedlam, and the company of Dr Jekyll…who wishes to be called Lord Hyde. Wonder where that is going….His personal assistant also just happens to be a certain Renfield, a man with a connection to Dracula.

Lily and Ethan have made it to safety, to a certain church and a certain Mother Joan. Turns out Lily is part of a holy order of warrior nuns called the watchers, whose job it is is to oppose Lucifer and his evil wherever it appears. They believe themselves chosen by God, and Sister Joan is convinced that Ethan, as the Wolf of God, has been sent to them to help. This isn’t the first ‘End of Days’ I’ve helped to stop Ethan drily notes. Ethan seems happy to help, right up to the point Lily reveals who she wants to also help defeat Lucifer/ Satan/ Vanessa….Dracula.

Let’s just stand back and watch those fireworks next issue.

Another fantastic issue from all involved. Chris King’s script is perfect, widening the Penny Dreadful cast of characters as the story dictates, pushing others back into the background until the story calls them back. Everything is so organic it almost feels as though the story is writing itself. Perfect characterisation, great dialogue and story, and oodles of atmosphere. Jesus Hervas’s loose and scrappy pencils and inks delivers the required grittiness, and Jason Wordie’s colours drop us into this dark, nasty place. The art and colours truly enhance the book even more.

Possibly the best book on the physical and virtual racks right now. Unmissable.

***** 5/5

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