24th Nov2017

‘Penny Dreadful #7′ Review

by Dean Fuller

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

PennyDreadful_2_7_Cover-A

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more faithful adaptation of a property from one medium to another. Apart from the fact Penny Dreadful works incredibly well in comic book form anyway, having always been a very visual show, these issues could be happily used as the storyboards for the TV show. It obviously helps that one of the creative guiding lights of the sow, Chris King, is the writer and ‘show runner’ for this title. He does a superb job and, as a huge fan of the show, I couldn’t be more impressed with how this book has been planned and published.

Last issue was ridiculously good, as the imminent End of Days provided a backdrop for a whole lot of story developments. The quick version is, Sir Malcolm was dead, now isn’t. Vanessa is back. Sort of. Dorian Gray is helping Lily and Ethan, or may be helping Lucifer instead. Dr Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll (or Lord Hyde, as he ominously wants to be called) and Renfield are up to who knows what in Bedlam. Oh, and Catriona and Kaetenay are running around doing good things, while Lucifer’s Brides of Blood are running around doing bad things. How Chris King fit all of last issue into last issue I still can’t work out.

We start in Bedlam, where Victor and Hyde are still experimenting with their drugs, on both themselves and the criminally insane. Lucifer’s attempt to ‘turn’ them to his cause meets with a somewhat violent response from Hyde, and a frightened one from Victor, surrounded by possessed madmen. Meanwhile Catriona, and Sir Malcolm’s ghost who only she can see, have also managed to get themselves in a pickle, locked up in a cell with hospital workers. The insane really have taken over the asylum.

Dorian Gray, Ethan, and Lily all arrive at Bedlam, to find it overrun by Lucifer’s servants. Not a surprise to Dorian of course, who has led them into this trap. They meet up by chance with Victor, and now is probably not the best time for Ethan to realise that it was Victor who resurrected Brona and made her into Lily. That revelation doesn’t go down too well, and not much could stop Ethan beating the full truth out of Victor. Actually hold that thought, as Satan’s Angel of Death has come to take Ethan to his master. Supernatural fisticuffs ensue, and Catriona and Malcolm arrive to meet up with the group. Things are getting a little too close for comfort, and the group jump in a carriage to escape. It doesn’t end well.

Well that was exhilarating, page turning stuff. The action never once let up, as events develop at a rate of knots. The sense of drama is everywhere, the sense of dread and evil suffocating. We know Lucifer is bad and doing bad things, but Chris King really plays up the dysfunctional family aspect of our heroes. Although they are fighting on the right side, it is for various different reasons, even selfish ones. None are pure at heart, most have secrets they are still guarding, and these deep flaws may yet see them fail. Divide and conquer, right? Outstanding story and dialogue from Chris King.

This issue even more than the previous ones Jesus Hervas shows why he is the perfect artist for this book. It is his art, and the colours of Jason Wordie, that give this world and story substance. The visuals ooze with decay, disease, and pestilence in the background of every panel. Shadows and jagged lines enhance the dark atmosphere on every page, making us fully aware this IS the End of Days. Technically, the layouts and pacing are perfect as well, an absolute joy to read.

Rather like parts of London in this story, the creative team of Chris King and Jesus Hervas are on fire. This book is nearly perfect in what it does, and what it does it tell damn fine stories, full of rich characters and even richer mythology. TV’s loss is the comic book fan’s gain. Sublime.

***** 5/5

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