Medi-EVIL Times: Dracula vs. King Arthur #2

Hello, my friends.  The week-long push to Halloween continues as we dig into another issue of…

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Last time, Vlad’s original empire has crumbled.  After avoiding the wrath of the Turkish empire, he meets Lucifer with an enticing offer: Be reborn in a different time period and have a new kingdom to rule over, but also have new abilities.  After being killed off, he’s sent back to medieval times and is reborn as the famed vampire, Dracula.  Afterwards, he confronts the evil sorceress Morgana and her son Mordred as he has them join his side by turning them into vampires.  Meanwhile, King Arthur received a dream from God that contained a message: Find the Holy Grail before it falls into darkness.  Despite the wishes of his wife, Queen Guinevere, to not leave her side, Arthur takes up the quest alongside Percival, Bors and Galahad while trusting Lancelot to help guard Camelot.  With everything set up, let’s dive in and see the opposing worlds collide in Chapter 2: Quests.

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Issue 2 open with Guinevere standing outside Camelot during sunset.  Lancelot approaches and tells her that it’s not safe for her to be outside of the castle walls.  However, she’s tired of having to be constantly protected and not knowing if she can go anywhere without having someone watch over her.  Lancelot then says that he’s only following her husband’s orders and that he also greatly cares about her.

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Suddenly, they’re confronted by Mordred and a pair of goons, all three of whom have been turned by Dracula. Lancelot ends up clashing with Mordred while Guinevere unsuccessfully fights the demonic fiends.

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As the queen is captured and taken away, Lancelot continues his fight.  Despite delivering a fatal slash, Mordred’s vampire traits allowed him to survive the strike as he throws Lancelot away before making his escape.

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Meanwhile, Arthur and his chosen knights are on the hunt for the Holy Grail.  They have arrived at the Bishop’s Library in order to learn about the fabled cup, but only the king was allowed entry.  After his knights have waited for several hours, Arthur emerges with both good news and bad news.  Good News: The Holy Grail resides in England since Joseph of Arimathea brought it into their land and lived there for several years.  Bad News: The research doesn’t explain how or where he lost it.   As such, they take their leave.

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Back in Camelot, Lancelot is about to go on a rescue mission despite Merlin reminding him that protecting Camelot is supposed to be his top priority and that Guinevere is lost to whatever dark arts await her.  Lancelot counters by his belief that Mordred also has the Holy Grail, which would allow him to do two tasks at one time.  However, Merlin doesn’t believe his notion since the fabled cup cannot be possessed by anyone who doesn’t worship God or has “evil in their heart”.  As for how Mordred survived a mortal blow, he senses a darker force at work that requires him to investigate.  However, Lancelot in unwilling to wait any longer as he rides off to save his queen.

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Over at Tintagel Castle, Dracula has Morgana at his side as he tells his followers to be weary of fire.  From there, he proceeds to explain why they should also never decide to betray him.

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Back when he was alive and ruling his previous kingdom, Vlad has a way to test the loyalty of his people.  He placed a golden cup on top of a well in order for them to drink the water, as long as they didn’t steal it.  One unfortunate man decided to swipe it for himself and ended up impaled at the stake.  Afterwards, Vlad’s people were so terrified of him that they never touched the cup again.

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Following his story, he grabs a random follower who claims that he wasn’t trying to usurp him.  It turns out that he was telling the truth, but Dracula doesn’t care as he throws the unlucky guy up towards the wooden spike.  After he ends up impaled, he suddenly explodes.  From there, the scene ends with Dracula and company discovering another method that could kill them.

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Back in Camelot, Merlin is hard at work in his room.  After learning about a solar eclipse, he’s suddenly confronted by a young girl named Amide.  He gives her a message and tells her to deliver it to King Arthur.  After assuring Amide that her brother Percival is doing well, she takes her leave.

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Meanwhile, Lancelot continues on his rescue mission.  He gets his big break when he comes across a family whose child was bitten by a male vampire.  After learning that he and his group headed off towards Tintagel Castle, Lancelot proceeds to hightail it towards his destination.  Meanwhile, Mordred has brought Queen Guinevere to Dracula.  She says that her husband will rescue her, but he disputes by saying that it’ll be a while before he finds out.  He then strikes an emotional weak-point when he discovers her jealousy between Arthur and his fellow knights.

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He then uses his hypnotic gaze and manages to sway her with the promises of Arthur never leaving her side again & to even have Lancelot be involved in her romantic ventures as well.  With the false promise of peace towards Camelot, Guinevere agrees to his proposal as the scene ends with Dracula biting her neck and bringing her to his side.

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Meanwhile, Arthur and his men are on horseback when they suddenly find themselves under attack by a giant bat.  The winged vermin specifically goes after Arthur, forcing the king to lean off to one side in order to avoid getting grabbed.  As the giant bat lifts him up by his horse, Arthur tries to reach for Excalibur but is unable to.  With the fear of losing his king, Galahad makes his horse (named “Gringolet”) gallop with all of its might in order to catch up.

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Just as Arthur comes within inches of wielding his sword, Galahad grabs his leg and manages to save him from the giant bat.  Unfortunately, not only has the monstrous creature taken Arthur’s horse, but Excalibur as well, leaving the king in total distraught.

Meanwhile, Lancelot is closing in on Tintagel Castle when he suddenly sees the giant bat carrying Arthur’s horse.  Afterwards, he sneaks towards the main gate before he slices the first guard’s head off and stabs the second guard.  After seeing the first guard vanish into dust, Lancelot realizes that he has found a way to kill a vampire as he proceeds to decapitate the second guard and head inside.

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Upon entering the throne room, he’s suddenly confronted by Mordred as the two of them engage each other in a sword fight.  After a while, the clash stops as Lancelot gets an unpleasant surprise.

Not only is he confronted by Dracula, but the Prince of Darkness is wielding Excalibur.  Lancelot demands to know how the fabled blade came into his possession, since only “the one who is worthy” is allowed to wield it.  Dracula tells him that it was his giant bat (named “Desmodus”) as he also reveals another surprise: Queen Guinevere having just been turned into a vampire.  As such, she’s able to sway him with the promise of them being together.  From there, Lancelot gives into temptation as Guinevere bites his neck and turns him into a vampire.

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With two important figures added to his side, Issue 2 ends with Dracula looking over the land as his army prepares for their ultimate battle.

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The story does a nice job in making things difficult for King Arthur.  After learning that the Holy Grail is able to be found, the giant bat attack that causes him to lose Excalibur is a good way to plant some doubt into our hero.  Little does he know is that he’s also lost two important people to Dracula, his queen and his closest knight.  This is setting up a grand challenge for King Arthur to overcome, while giving the Prince of Darkness a multitude of ways to take Camelot’s ruler down.  The art work is once again solid, though there are a few more gradient backgrounds.  I guess that they’re supposed to capture certain emotions for a scene, which I suppose is effective as long as there’s some decent backgrounds to help balance things out.  A genuine complaint that I have so far is with Guinevere.  She was sort of whiny about King Arthur leaving her side in the first issue, but her flaws showed up more here.  She felt very needy for him and that trait was all that Dracula needed to sway her into becoming a vampire.  While her adulterous romance for Lancelot was subtly set up in the previous issue, this disastrous outcome feels like something that needed more time to have a greater impact.  However, it was development time that this series wasn’t afforded.  Other than that, things are setting up quite nicely for the second half the story.

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Overall, this issue is a good set-up.  It takes everything that was established & raises the stakes for King Arthur, the art work is still effective and the characters are mainly effective.  It places things in dire straights and makes the reader want to find out how they’ll get resolved.  That’s exactly what’ll happen when we delve further into this min-series.  Until next time, see you around the C-Cubed!

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