Titan Comics Penny Dreadful released this week. The first issue, taking place before season one of the SHOWTIME series, is an all new and original story based on the universe created by John Logan.
When Titan Comics first announced an all-new Penny Dreadful comic book in December 2015, I was pretty excited for it. Having been a fan of the first two seasons and awaiting the third, I wanted nothing more than an additional source to extend the SHOWTIME brand. The original press release seemed promising enough when Lizzie Kaye, the Titan Comics editor said:
“This incredibly exciting new comic series is going to captivate fans of horror, literature and PENNY DREADFUL alike, giving them a whole new insight into the lives of the fascinating, even bewitching, characters.”
After a five month wait, issue one of Titan Comics Penny Dreadful is finally here and it was well worth the anticipation. As such a fan of the Universal Studios classic monsters and literary sources in which most of them were based, Penny Dreadful was always something I had great interest in. Issue one, written by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Andrew Hindebaker, and Chris King is nothing short of a masterful debut. Especially having just re-watched the more Stoker based and vampire dominated first season, Cairns, Hindebaker, and King’s story effectively captures the tone of the John Logan series.
Even if you haven’t watched Penny Dreadful on SHOWTIME, issue one of Titan Comics’ new series won’t be lost on “fans of horror, literature” just as editor Lizzie Kaye originally stated in the first press release for the comic book. Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who wrote the comic and the story, drops us right into the unfolding story and connected universe of monsters by introducing us to an enigmatic figure referred only as “Master” by Mina Harker. After a few moody and bloody panels by illustrator Louie De Martinis, for those that have yet to watch the show, it’s easy to infer that Dracula is this universe’s main villain. Between the hissing of vampires and dripping of blood, by page 3 Cairns’ story is effectively under our skin.
The first issue of Penny Dreadful doesn’t spend all that much time on setting up television characters like Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) and Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton), but then it doesn’t really need to. All the reader needs to know is that Vanessa Ives was contacted by Mina’s spirit with the demand “Save me from him!” Mina’s father, Sir Malcolm Murray, after meeting with Vanessa and being told about his daughter, decided that they “shall descend into hell to save her.” After this fast set up, this is where Penny Dreadful really shines for fans of the SHOWTIME series as we contend with an all new plot. And an introduction of a literary fan favorite referenced in the show but never seen.
Penny Dreadful issue one works in a lot of ways and one of them being that it’s a worthy extension of the universe John Logan has created. Titan Comics has a good history with fan favorite properties like Doctor Who and so it’s no surprise the creative team has done such a good job. However, issue one is an extremely fast paced story and I would have preferred if the engaging artwork was peppered with more dialogue.
If you’ve watched the show and/or you’re a fan of either the gothic novels such as “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, you’ll easily enjoy sinking your teeth into Titan Comics’ Penny Dreadful. It’s an experience to be enjoyed once a month, just like Ethan Chandler’s once a month wolf-y tendencies!
Penny Dreadful issue one is out now and gets four out of five stars. The opening works really well and is effectively creepy as Louie De Martinis artwork brings to mind a very Ben Templesmith feel to the issue. Though I do wish we got a little more time with Vanessa, Sir Malcolm, and Sembene. But here’s to issue two which should be exciting.
Also, did anyone catch Dracula (The Master) using the word “sweet” twice? If you’re watching season three, you’ll understand where I’m going with this. All I can say is that Krysty Wilson-Cairns’ first issue is definitely a step in the right direction.
Penny Dreadful #1
Writer: Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Artist: Louie De Matinis
Publisher: Titan Comics
FC – 32PP – $3.99 – On Sale: May 11
The hit TV series is presented in comics for the first time! This prequel reveals the terrifying events that led Vanessa to try and find her missing childhood friend, Mina Harker, and exposes the true nature of the vampiric monsters infesting Victorian London. Beautifully realized by Louie De Martinis, and written by the scriptwriters of the hit show!
Cover A: Guillem March
Cover B: Ben Templesmith
Cover C: Louie De Martinis
Cover D: Photo cover by Martin Stiff
Cover E: Photo cover by Cat Connery
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(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)