‘Anno Dracula 1895: Seven Days in Mayhem #1’ - Comic Book Review

In the alternate fictional reality of Anno Dracula 1895: Seven Days in Mayhem #1, Prince Dracula was not defeated by Van Helsing and company. Instead, he became the ruler of Great Britain, which encouraged vampires to emerge from the darkness, making for a Victorian London rampant with vampires. Dracula has ruled for 10 years now, and a resistance group is making plans to overthrow him, while others are planning his jubilee. The premise for this tale is brilliant in the way that Prince Dracula essentially becomes a political figure with those who publically celebrate him in contrast to those who want to usurp him. Adding the animal creatures that Dracula also commands demonstrates his complete power over man, animal, and undead. Kim Newman’s plot is a wonderful spin on the Victorian Gothic vampire problem.

Newman also pays a nod to C. K. Chesterton’s novel, The Man Who was Thursday (1907) and John William Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819). I appreciate the timely literary references and the seamless way she weaves them into the plot. The story is clever and intriguing. I especially love the dynamic of the resistance group, which even includes a vampire. Having the opposition to Dracula’s rule as an anarchist group is just brilliant. They are in the minority, as the other characters that we see are very “rah-rah Dracula.”

Paul McCaffrey’s art is vibrant and playful, which differs from the typical dark, shadowy feel of the Victorian Gothic. But it works so well with this plot. The explosion of blood spatter actually softens the goriness and makes it appear as though this is just the way that blood spreads in this vampire-filled society. The “BLAM” also lightens the mood of the upcoming murder scene. I found myself thinking that this is what a society ruled by vampires looks like. Of course there would be blood everywhere. There is also a perfect blend of gentlemanly behavior with violence, which is so perfectly in line with Dracula himself.

In my favorite panel, McCaffrey makes the man in the moon into a vampire in the moon. The fangs on the moon’s face are simultaneously eerie and wonderful. It seems increasingly possible in this world that Dracula would also have command over the moon. Vampires are everywhere, so the members of the Council of the Seven Days have a difficult task ahead trying to rid Dracula’s influence over land, sea, and sky.

The cover is reminiscent of a film noir, with Dracula’s silhouette towering over the three women. I love that the focus is on the women—who have realistic features compared to Dracula’s shadow’s long, pointy nose and fingernails. The variant covers are also brilliant, each highlighting the monstrosity of the vampire and his influence over others. Mike Collins’ cover is a perfect combination of a creepy, evil silhouette having a Smithers “excellent” moment with Jabba the Hutt chaining up Princess Leia.

I am already hooked just off this first issue. It is playfully terrifying, which is such a hard combination to pull off. Newman and McCaffrey do it so well and make a truly engaging issue of vampiric brilliance.

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