25th Apr2018

‘Penny Dreadful #9′ Review

by Dean Fuller

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

PennyDreadful_2_9_CvA

Well this has been a while coming. I reviewed issue 8 back in early January, so clearly the use of sadism isn’t just restricted to certain characters within the story. Chris King and Jesus Hervas, although clearly doing an absolutely brilliant job, need to restrict their evil deeds to the story and get this book out monthly. Or there will be hell to pay.

Which of course neatly ties into the ongoing storyline where, indeed, there is Hell to pay. Satan is currently inhabiting the body of Vanessa Ives, and has literally unleashed hell on Earth, with London overrun by all manner of demons and undead. Ethan has made things about a million times worse by letting Vanessa/Satan seduce him, and a pregnancy between Satan/Vanessa and the Wolf of God would produce an unbelievably powerful being. One night stands, never a good idea. Hope still exists though in the form of our band of do-gooders, as Catriona and Victor Frankenstein fight their way across London. And hey, what’s Dorian Gray, Renfield, and Lord Hyde up to? No good, no doubt. (except Renfield, he’s dead. Er, so’s Dorian. Pay attention!)

Think the stakes couldn’t get any higher? Think again. Satan, after failing to turn Ethan to his/her cause, brutally stabs him and leaves him for dead. Luckily the ghost of Sir Malcolm is on hand, and guides Catriona and Victor to him. All out battle continues, with Lily’s warrior nuns in the thick of it, as well as Kaetenay and the werewolves, though Lily is absent, still dealing with the death of Dorian. Meanwhile the Tower of London has been taken as the new place for Satan to reside until the birth of the anti-Christ. Temporarily beaten back, Satan’s army has left Mother Joan mortally wounded, and Kaetenay and Ethan seriously wounded. Things are looking worse than ever.

Victor has rushed back to his home to get essential supplies to try and save Ethan’s life. Unfortunately for him, Lord Hyde is waiting. That’s the increasingly unstable Lord Hyde , totally obsessed with his research. Turns out the formula they had both been working on seems to have been perfected. The missing ingredient? monster blood. For now, a seemingly calmer Hyde accompanies Victor to help save Ethan. Time to divide and, hopefully, conquer. Victor, Catriona, and some of the Wolves will travel to the Isle of the Living Dead and liberate the Eternal Flame needed to defeat Satan. Lily, Kaetenay, and Lord Hyde will stay to save Ethan. Fair enough plan, but what are those bulging black veins on Lord Hyde’s face? hmmm.

How can a book so incredibly dark and depressing still be so much fun. Great storytelling, that’s how. It’s literally breathless stuff, just like a movie with fast cuts between scenes. Great drama and great characterisation always shine through. I find myself reading the story twice, once at the pace that the writing dictates, then a slower second read to take in the details I missed first time round. I couldn’t imagine any other artist on this book now than Jesus Hervas, his scratchy, dirty, messy art is just perfect for the look and feel of the book. As great as the script is, less atmospheric art could still ruin the impact. The dark, moody colours of Jason Wordie are also integral to the book. Perfect synergy of word and pictures for me.

Although I read and rate each individual issue, Penny Dreadful is best read as an ongoing adventure. Each issue is but a chapter of the whole, and the plots continuously run across multiple issues. Although individual issues slightly dip here and there, as an ongoing title, it’s 5 stars without a doubt.

****½  4.5/5

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