05th Oct2017

‘Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter #1’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Written by Dan Abnett | Art by Tom Mandrake | Published by Titan Comics


Captain Kronos – like the film – chronicles the adventures of the mysterious and powerful Kronos who has dedicated his life to destroying the evil vampire plague. Once a victim himself, the debonair Hunter knows the vampire’s strengths and weaknesses as well as the dangers of confronting the potent forces of darkness.

Based on the 1974 film, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is the second Hammer title from Titan Comics following the success of the awesome The Mummy: Palimpsest (from Peter Milligan and Ronilson Freire). However unlike other Hammer franchises, Captain Kronos was very much about the heroics of its titular character – and this new book very much follows suit, making it different in many ways from what audiences might expect from a Hammer comic.

The art in this book reminded me very much of the classic, and controversial, British comic Scream – in particular the grotesque character of Uncle Terry – with Tom Mandrake’s artwork making the characters and creatures that inhabit this world look as grisly on the page as they would on the screen. Mandrake’s artwork captures the terror of this tale in very much in the same way Bernie Wrightson managed to embody horror within his artwork for Warren Publishing.

Mandrake’s art perfectly captures the feel of the era, as well as the atmosphere of fear that Kronos inserts himself into each and every time he battles the undead – a mix of grit and grue that it the epitome of Hammer Horror. And the artwork truly shines when allowed to roam free from the constraints of Dan Abnett’s script.

Whilst the story in this first issue is slight,the constant chatter, thought bubbles and narrative aspects of the script often feel like their bogging down the story. What should be a fun, fear-filled story, becomes cumbersome and clunky a lot of the time. Yet for all that, the script of the first issue does what it sets out to do. It performs the perfunctory “first issue” task:

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter #1 introduces Kronos and his two assistants: Grost and Carla, showing the trio in battle and at leisure – giving us some insight into how they work as a team and what kind of people Kronos and co. are when they’re not kicking monster arse; and sets the eerie stage for the following issues – including introducing the people and places Kronos has been asked to defend and… more importantly… introducing the books key villain; even if said introduction is all too brief!

But what Abnett’s script DOES do well though is capture the more action-orientated aspects of the orighinal movie. Captain Kronos was never the dour gothic horror that Hammer is associated with – it had much lighter tone, thanks to the script and direction of Brian Clemens, fresh off the success of The Avengers – who brought the same sense of fun and frolic, whilst still delivering a “Hammer production”, to the film that he did to his TV work. Like the film, this iteration of the vampire-hunting hero perfectly balances the horror action and action…

It’s clear that Abnett has a passion for the source material, and when paired with Mandrake’s EC-like artwork it makes for a superb first entry into what I’m hoping will be another must-buy from Titan/Hammer Comics. Here’s very much looking forward to the next issue!

**** 4/5


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