Friday, September 12, 2008

the curse of dracula

I thought I’d try something different and sprang for this standalone comic by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan from 1998. Okay, since it’s about deadly bats it wouldn’t seem much of a departure—however, it’s from the Dark Horse Press from which Hellboy and numerous other successful franchises spring. And therefore, the feel is very different. I tried to get into it, and being as I am a fan of Stoker and Gothic horror, it seemed a plausible match. But I’ve got to say if I fancy bats I’m going to stick with the safe—that is, DC Comics.

Gene Colan doesn’t ink, as far as I can tell. Therefore his drawings are sketches, bearing the telltale signs of value, smudging, and layering that look cool but ultimately unfinished and must belie the amount of effort that he’s put into the art. I’m almost certain that Dracula 2000 evolved from this story as it shares a similar gritty theme of guns, guts, perversion, turn-of-the-century dirt and corruption. Dracula is the ever-immortal, there are grandchildren of the original Van Helsing and Seward, and its setting of seedy San Francisco is certainly akin to the New Orleans of the film.

That’s where the similarities stop, though, as the Dracula 2000 Dracula was charming and at least quasi-sympathetic (hell, he was Gerard Butler) whereas this Dracula is loathsome. The vampire hunters are interesting to a point; Van Helsing lost his vocal cords to vampires and earns his keep as a talk show host. By far the most interesting character is the half-Japanese Hiroshima who dresses bad-@$$ and carries a huge gun—she was blinded and tortured by vampires and therefore has absorbed so much of their blood that she’s half-vampire (or something?). Still, if we’re on the subject of a team, I think I’d much rather watch Torchwood kick undead butt.

The plot to take over the US presidency is interesting but ultimately meaningless. The team do possess some exciting weapons like a metal-tipped whip, incendiary stakes filled with sulphur and guns with wooden bullets. But overall, I found myself not caring very much about any of these characters and much preferring Dracula 2000.

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