12th Apr2021

‘Cult of Dracula #1’ Review (Source Point Press)

by Phil Wheat

Written by Rich Davis | Art by Henry Martinez | Published by Source Point Press

I’m not going to lie, as a comic reader most of my time and money is spent on books from the genres big two, Marvel and DC. I very rarely stray from the two, and when I do its usually because a friend has either lent me a book or recommended something they know matches my taste entirely or its a licensed title and I’m a fan of the property… Why am I telling you this? Well because, for the first time in a VERY long time, I picked up an indie book and one from a publisher that – honestly – I’d never heard of. And on top of all that I bought it literally based on the stunning cover by artist Gyula Nemeth! I hadn’t read a single thing about the book, I was going in blind based on artwork (pictured above) that really struck me.

So how was the actual story?

Well Cult of Dracula is, in fact, a retelling, nay reimagining, of the Dracula story – complete with familiar names such a Van Helsing but relocated to America; updated to modern times, with modern sensibilities; and, as far as I can tell from only one issue, less of a focus on Dracula himself…

Issue one opens with Special Agent Malcom Bram arriving at the House of the Rising Sun, a secluded compound which is the home of the secretive Ordo Dracul and the scene of a horrendous crime coined, “The Cult of Dracula Mass Suicides.” The book then flashes back in time and we find Professor Van Helsing and a documentary film crew, which includes Van Helsing’s assistants Jonathan Harker and Mina Murray, who has come to the House of the Rising Sun to uncover the secrets of the mysterious cult by interviewing its enigmatic leader, Robert Renfield. So that’s Van Helsing, Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray and Renfield, all familiar names in Dracula mythos… and within the first half of the book we’re also introduced to Arthur Holmwood, here a disgraced embezzler who has joined the cult along with his girlfriend Lucy Westenra, who has succumbed to the words of cult member and all-round creeper, Papa.

Being a first issue there’s a lot of introduction here rather than exposition but when you open with a gruesome drawn an inked massacre, complete with decapitated bodies, walls painted red with blood and enough death to fill a whole series of books rather then one issue; you’re giving readers all the exposition they need at this stage. Instead the focus on introducing characters works well to set the scene – and nowhere is that more evident than in the introduction of the character Papa. A scar-faced psychopath, Papa walks into the book to the adulation of Lucy, ranting on about biases and perspectives, brandishing a gun and discussing how different perspectives can shape you opinion of it. And honestly, in the 4 pages Papa appears we told everything we need to know (talk about telling a skilled story with brevity) – that this man is a twisted and very dangerous individual. We’ll have to wait and see just how dangerous in later issues.

But thats not the only thing striking about Cult of Dracula #1. The art, with pencils and inks by Henry Martinez and colour by Trevor Richardson gives the book a real gritty look, perfect for the dark and dangerous tale that is unfolding. And when we get to THAT double-page spread, a brilliant brief reveal of what goes on inside this cult building..? Wow. Just wow. In one panel Davis and Martinez had me hooked for the next issue, and the next, and the next, ad infinitum. If Cult of Dracula keeps up this standard I’m in for the long haul – into 2022’s forthcoming Rise of Dracula and 2023’s Reign of Dracula (apparently that’s the plan for this title, along with a possible movie – which is apt given this book is based on a script Rich Davis wrote).

Much like when I used to go to the video shop and rent tapes based solely off their cover, sometimes taking a chance on something pays off and Cult of Dracula #1 is proof of that. In this book I think I’ve found a hidden gem and, ultimately, a favourite for life.

***** 5/5

Cult of Dracula #1 was released on March 31st, courtesy of Source Point Press.

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