Review: Brothers Dracul #1

Darryll Robson Darryll Robson
Expert Contributor
April 10th, 2018

Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.

Review: Brothers Dracul #1
Comics
0
Price:
Inspired

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On April 10, 2018
Last modified:April 10, 2018

Summary:

A strong start to a series which takes a different approach to a classical character. A combination of impressive, detailed artwork and character driven plotting makes this a successful first issue.

Price:
Inspired

Reviewed by:
Rating:

4
On April 10, 2018
Last modified:April 10, 2018

Summary:

A strong start to a series which takes a different approach to a classical character. A combination of impressive, detailed artwork and character driven plotting makes this a successful first issue.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

Continuing to fill their schedule with new titles, Aftershock Comics releases a new take on the Dracula story with Brothers Dracul, out this week. From the writer of comics such as Deadpool and Venom, and the artist of The Punisher and Secret Warriors comes a total different type of story set in the violent times of the Ottoman Empire.  Our contributor, Darryll Robson, takes a look at issue 1 to see how their view of Dracula differs from previous iterations.

Bram Stoker’s original Dracula novel is 121 years old. It has been adapted and retold more times than I can count and, along with Frankenstein, was the backbone to Hammer Horror’s success. The character has featured heavily in an array of comics, even making notable appearances in both Marvel and DC comics. In fact, Mike Mignola’s comic adaption of Francis Ford Coppola’s movie is due to be collected and released later this year from IDW Publishing. After all of this time the character and legacy of Dracula still inspires and influences creators of all mediums so it’s not surprising to see a new Dracula themed comic hitting the shelves. This latest one is called Brother Dracul and is released by Aftershock comics.

Credit: Aftershock Comics

Synopsis

Many years before stalking castle ramparts only at night, Vlad and his brother Radu, also known as the Sons of the Dragon, are used as pawns by the Sultan to ensure the loyalty of their father. Through their training they witness violence and treachery in many forms which ultimately has far reaching effects on them and their lives leading one of them to commit some gruesome acts of carnage.

Analysis

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Cullen Bunn wastes no time getting to the gruesome tone of this comic. After a cold, wintery set up page, the reader, like Radu in the final panel of the first page, is taken aback by the violence and butchery on display. A two-page spread with a gothic castle in the distance and the frozen, bloody remains of impaled and massacred people in the foreground instantly lets the reader know this is no fairy tale re-telling or Disney cartoon origin story of the Dracula character. Death and the aftermath of violence are placed front and centre. The reader literally has to wade through horrific scenes of mutilation to get to the castle and get to the story that Cullen Bunn wants to tell.

This first issue introduces the two central characters wonderfully by showing their lives in the ‘present’, or in this case at Targoviste in 1463, before heading into their childhood and begin to portray the circumstances of their journey from children into adults. There is an element of a coming of age drama about this but more akin to Game of Thrones than Dawsons Creek. Political treachery and forced loyalty play a part in the two youngsters lives and the harsh world in which they live forge their characters, something which Bunn spares no expense on explaining in detail.

The boy’s father acts as a narrator for Bunn, using him to explain the situation to his sons and the readers at the same time. This means that each step of the story is clear and the narrative doesn’t get confusing. It also helps to illustrate the subtler elements of character development between the two brothers. The father acts as a neutral centre which the boys gravitate towards and around, sometimes at polar opposites to each other. This reinforces the reaction of Radu at the beginning of the comic; over the years the two have grown apart.

Credit: Aftershock Comics

Mirko Colak’s art work is finely detailed and complex especially in the crowd sequences. It is in these moments where he excels in layout and composition; using perspective to place particular characters at the top of a pile of bodies or highlight the size of an army with contrasts between empty skies and packed foregrounds. There is also some exquisite use of body language to enforce the characteristics of the cast.

However, it is the colouring that sets the tone in these pages. Maria Santaolalla uses her skills, especially on the backgrounds, to set the overall feel of each page while at the same time emphasise the emotions of the characters in the panels. She also uses stark contrasts in colour to make an image more disturbing or uncomfortable; for example, the first double page spread where Vlad’s pastime is on display; this image is horrifically gruesome with the blood reds staining the white snow.

The first issue of Brothers Dracul does at times feel over written with some of the speech adding nothing that the art doesn’t already give to the reader. However, this doesn’t slow the narrative down and some of the silent panels say more about the characters than a page of written text. So much so that the reader gets the sense that they have read more than they actually have; Bunn, Colak and Santaolalla mange to fit a lot of character development into the pages which makes this a pleasure to read.

Brothers Dracul does everything that a first issue should do and it does it with style and finesse. How this story will hold up to other, great Dracula adaptations remains to be seen but based on this first part, the readers are in for a treat.

Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he remembers his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson, but he does remember to write more about comics on his website comiccutdown.com

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Brothers Dracul #1

  • 4

Inspired

A strong start to a series which takes a different approach to a classical character. A combination of impressive, detailed artwork and character driven plotting makes this a successful first issue.

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