Best Shots Extra: The Complete Dracula #1
Writers: Bram Stoker (story); Leah Moore and John Reppion (adaptation)
Art: Colton Worley
Letters: Simon Bowland
Covers: John Cassaday
Review by Troy Brownfield
I know what you’re thinking. “Do we really need another Dracula comic?” Apparently, yes. Why? This goes beyond the conventional thinking of a Dracula comic and returns to the source material. In fact, it makes a more severe return to the source material by including Dracula’s Guest as the prologue.
Not familiar with Dracula’s Guest? It’s the anchor piece from author Bram Stoker’s posthumous 1914 collection of short stories, Dracula’s Guest and other Weird Stories. Many have regarded the short as the actual original beginning of Dracula, though some scholars and historians dispute that. Nevertheless, Moore and Reppion include it here, along with author’s notes that detail their decision-making process and correspondence with noted Dracula experts regarding the decision and intent. Frankly, it’s a good decision, as it provides a little extra kick and visual flair (The lightning strike! The wolf!) to a tale that everyone knows.
Another reason to take a look is the terrifically styled painted art of Colton Worley. Worley does a beautiful job with everything in this book, from pastoral vistas to leering vampire brides, from doomed sailing vessels to the threatening darkness of a snowy Walpurgis Nacht. I was actually delighted that the first image we get is that of a typewriter; not only is the typewriter painstakingly detailed, but the picture immediately establishes that the comic will respect the epistolary nature of the novel, built as it was in its context from letters, diary entries, and primitively recorded audio-journals. The only problem with the art (and it’s tiny) is that Harker and Seward resemble one another perhaps a bit too much; however, given that they don’t appear together in this issue, their differences may be more apparent once they’re in the same scene.
Moore and Reppion are to be commended for the firm hand they take with the script. They’ve made it lean, yet kept everything that’s important. Large chunks of exposition are incorporated through captions, carefully tying into the action while minding the fact that everything we got in the book was from each character’s own relation of events. Familiar words are punched up by Worley; as the writers demonstrate Lucy’s recounting of her suitors to Mina, Worley responds by giving Lucy a type of languid sensuality. And I think we all know where that leads later.
Based on this first issue, I believe that it’s safe to say that this project will become a striking read. It’s a chance to experience a classic in a new way, and quality is quite evident. As I noted above, the issue is filled out with author’s notes discussing the project, as well as demonstration of how Worley turned a particular page of script into a finished piece.