And now for something different: a comic review of Penny Dreadful!

London, 1890s. Sir Malcolm Murray and Vanessa Ives, father and closest friend of Mina Harker, must find and rescue her from the vampire who has laid claim on her life. Little do they know that Mina is in fact trying to lure Vanessa to her master’s claws, for reasons unknown, and that all manner of dark creatures are conspiring against them both…

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From the scriptwriters of the acclaimed Gothic horror television series Penny Dreadful (of which I am a huge fan), comes a short comic book series that will explore unseen moments in the show’s history, just as season 3 begins to air on both sides of the Atlantic. The first issue starts at the very beginning of the story and introduces us to some of the series’ core characters, so readers who have not seen or even heard of the TV show need not be deterred from picking this issue up.

Spurred by the sudden re-appearance of her friend Mina, Vanessa Ives is jolted from her state of mourning. She visits Sir Malcolm, Mina’s father, to tell him of his daughter’s return–but not without the terrible news that Mina seems to have become a dark creature, enthralled to the service of a demon who feeds on her blood. Upon hearing this, Malcolm, a former leader of colonialist British expeditions, boldly exclaims that to save Mina they shall descend into hell.

…which, it turns out, is in Essex. Accurate? Possibly.

The two, along with Sir Malcolm’s trusted companion Sembene, an African man shrouded by mystery, are en route when their carriage is attacked by servants of the demon they are after. Following a bloody battle, they are rescued by a mysterious man–someone who is connected to them and Mina in a profound way. Where will things go from here? We have to wait for issue #2 to find out…

Penned by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, one of the writers now working on season 3 of Penny Dreadful, the issue treads carefully around the nature of Vanessa’s relationship with Sir Malcolm and Mina, alluding to revelations from the ending of season 1 but not overtly spoiling anything significant. While it is merely a glimpse into the show’s delicious demimonde, it should offer new readers a taste of the Gothic atmosphere which makes Penny Dreadful one of the best shows on TV right now. As for fans of the show, the revelation at the end of issue #1 is reason enough to come back and read the rest, for a story we thought was over looks to be making a comeback.

Louie De Martinis’ beautiful art is a perfect match for the story’s Gothic influences: he captures the expressions of the characters (or, I should say, the actors, namely Eva Green and Timothy Dalton) in a uniquely stylised way which allows room for creative flourishes while staying true to the aesthetic of the TV series.

Rating: 8/10

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