Happy Halloween, my friends! The spirits are soaring high, the fallen leaves are swirling ’round and the children of the night are on the move to get their proper goodies. Over here, the celebrations have reached its zenith. As such, welcome to the last entry of the…
From anthology stories within Cleveland and the WildStorm Universe to a multitude of tales featuring various DC heroes & villains, this horror-filled extravaganza has been a witches’ kettle of potpourri goodness. However, I’d be remissed if I didn’t also mention that this delicacy has also been laced in blood. As such, we have a fight to resolve so let’s bring back our featured presentation known as…
Before we proceed, here’s a quick recap of our last issue. After being supposedly slained by Mina Harker’s group back in 1887, Dracula has come back in search of vengeance. As such, Prof. Abraham Van Helsing has teamed up with Det. George Abberline, Sgt. Godly, Dr. John Seward, Mina and even Bram Stoker himself to combat the count. By Part 1’s end, Lady Harker has discovered that Quincey Morris (who had lost his life after initially defeating Dracula) has returned but now he serves the same enemy that he once slayed.
As for the second and final issue of this two-part tie-in to a board game that was brought into existence by Green Ronin Publishing & Human Head studios, it sold 3,508 copies during its initial release of June 2004. So how will our famous vampire hunters deal with London’s supernatural crisis? Let’s take the bloody plunge and find out.
Issue 2 opens at the Monument to the Great Fire of London as Mina informs Abraham that Quincey has returned. He then asks her how Morris was originally killed as she explains that when they originally found Dracula sleeping in his coffin during the late hour of the day, her husband Jonathan slit the count’s throat while Morris stabbed the fiend in the heart. From there, Dracula crumbled into ash and supposedly died before the sun has set. However, it was later discovered that he managed to bite Quincey before his original demise and thus had Morris in an undead state. Just then, he appears before them as Van Helsing protects Lady Harker. However, Quincey is only here to give them a message from his undead master: Leave London within three days or else.
Later, Mina tries to convince Jonathan to leave the city with her. Lord Arthur Godaming convinces them otherwise stating that if they don’t make a stand against Dracula, then his terror will grow to the point where there won’t be any place left to run to. Case-in-point, Det. Abberline and Bram bring up recent vampire attacks at Fulham Palace and Southwark Cathdral. Arthur and Jonathan wonder how that was even possible given their close proximity to the Thames River (due to a vampire’s weakness to running water), but George deduces that Dracula’s undead army has found a way to cross without having to do so on the surface level. Later that night, they arrive at their answer which turns out to be the Tower Subway, an underground tunnel that runs underneath the Thames.
They soon discovers a series of coffins as they open one up to discover that its empty. However, it does contain a note as Abraham realizes that their undead foes “are not entirely souless”. Suddenly, they’re approached by another female vampire who’s about to feast on them. Fortunately, Abraham fends her off with a cross as Mina comes in and fires a shot from her crossbow and strikes the heart. Afterwards, Van Helsing tells her to go with the group to seal off the opposite end of the tunnel while he takes care of some present business.
Later, midnight has struck as our hunters reach London Bridge on September 6. Suddenly, they’re approached by Quincey who gives them one last chance to leave town. However, they still refuse to comply as Morris warns them to change their mind or else as he once again vanishes. After the Harkers inform Det. Adderline and Jack that they won’t be fighting Quincey (especially since they named their son after him in his honor), they then carry on with their plan of lining the tunnel entrance with a specialized garlic paste. Afterwards, they head inside and reach another set of coffins in order to coat them with the paste. Suddenly, they’re confronted by Morris and a group of female vampires.
Meanwhile, Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, Stoker and Lees are working on the initial end of the tunnel. Just then, Lees is attacked by a female vampire as John rushes off to avenge his comrade. Afterwards, the scene ends with Abraham suddenly approached by Dracula. Back with Mina’s group, Johnathan impales a female vampire while Arthur hesitates. His femininely fiend takes advantage of this to try and bite him, but Johnathan thankfully impales her in time. Meanwhile, Mina approaches Quincey and fires an arrow towards his chest. Despite scoring a hit, his heart wasn’t struck as he retreats with Lady Harker promising him that when they meet again, “the song will end”.
Back with Van Helsing, he’s hit by Dracula’s sneak attack before the Count grabs him and prepares to bite his neck. Vlad then decides to force him into drinking his blood as he cuts his chest and proceeds to force-feed his adversary in order to make him his “latest slave”. Just then, John arrives and tells him to let Abraham go. As such, Dracula throws Van Helsing at him claiming that he’s claimed his soul and delivers a message to Dr. Seward & his fellow hunters: Stay out of his way or else. From there, he takes his leave. Afterwards, we cut to the next day as Mina talks with Johnathan & George as she mentions that Bram has ran off and refuses to discuss about their recent experience. Jack then comes in and informs them that while Arthur will recover, Lees isn’t as fortunate. Afterwards, the series ends with Abraham arriving as he lets them know that Dracula’s present plans have failed and that they’ll be ready when he strikes again. At the same time, he has a journal entry stating that he’ll remain as patient as the Count so that “this bloody feud” can be brought to an end. Unbeknownst to his fellow hunters however, he has his own vampire fangs.
Overall, this is a satisfactory conclusion and a particularly two-part tie-in to a board game. The second part has a certain sense of urgency from our main characters in order to stop the Lord of Darkness’ growing reign after they initially foiled him. While Dracula’s undead are mainly easy to take down in this story, it does present an idea of what the player who plays as Vlad will have at their disposal when they play the board game. There’s not much of a resolution since he ambiguously bites Abraham before retreating, but I’d assume that it continues over in the main board game where either Van Helsing’s hunters ultimately take him down or Dracula’s supernatural army leads the way for his dark rule to ultimately come to fruition. Because it’s only a two-issue story, the pacing does move at a decent clip but at the cost of further character development for those who’ve read the original novel. I went into this not having read Stoker’s signature book and only being familiar with these people from other forms of media, but they do take some time to properly discuss their situation at hand. Like the first issue however, the artwork is still sketchy and makes it somewhat hard to keep track of particular characters other than Mina who’s our only woman for this piece. The rough nature with only a small color palette (with the exception of an establishment shot of London Bridge) does create a suitable horror atmosphere, but the numerous vampire hunters from Bram’s book does create a problem when the artwork somewhat muddles their appearances of their outfits and their facial hair. As for ending this tale with Dracula turning Van Helsing into a vampire, that feels like a plot thread that could have played out here had this series had been its own stand-alone entity. Because I’ve never played the board game, maybe this comes back in some form during gameplay. Either way, this is a fairly interesting read that’ll draw some interest towards the activity that it ties into. While lacking any grand action set pieces and being a bit hampered by Szymon Kudrankski’s art style, it still makes up with its sense of foreboding terror, familiar characters and antiquated atmosphere. When it comes to reading material for Halloween, it’s worth sinking your teeth into.
Dracula’s Revenge is created by Green Ronin Publishing & Human Head Studios. Comic published by Idea & Design Works Publishing.