In 1992, British author Kim Newman released the first novel in his alternate history universe, Anno Dracula, in which Dracula marries Queen Victoria, making vampirism socially acceptable and, from the readers’ point of view, uniting many fictional universes. In 2017, Titan released a comic mini-series, not strictly a retelling but presumably happening sometime after Newman’s first novel. Anno Dracula 1895: Seven Days in Mayhem focuses (and I use that term loosely) on vampire journalist and newly minted insurrectionist Katherine Reed.

The comic seems to rely on the fact that readers will either already be fans of Newman’s work, or will be intrigued enough by the explosion of activity to continue reading. Within the first fifteen pages, we see the invading foreign army (including the Phantom of the Opera and Thomas Edison) defeated, a meeting of anarchists, and then see a completely different character arriving at the Prime Minister’s residence.

There’s a lot of “Should I already know what’s happening?” and “Do I recognize that name because I read it in high school lit or because I saw that character earlier in the story?” This sometimes made me feel that I was looking at a character that wasn’t having the appropriate emotional response, or wasn’t making eye contact with the right person. I’d try rereading to try and see if I’d miss something, if there was some kind of visual gag sailing over my head, and once or twice that did seem to be the case (all of the constables seemed to be identical, and then the sergeant calls them by the wrong name a few chapters later, for example) but honestly, the whole volume seemed to suffer from multiple instances of poor visual continuity.

Artist Paul McCaffrey does create beautiful environments with amazing attention to detail, and manages his enormous cast of characters exceedingly well. There are some great moments he provides the reader, like the A Trip to the Moon reference toward the end, and the bat-people on hang gliders in during the sea battle.

Similarly, there are some amazing things that Newman puts into the story; Penny’s one liner at the climax: “We do not approve of vampires who sparkle!”. And my favorite moment of all:

A revolutionary reveals himself to be an undercover agent to a constable who reveals himself to be a secret anarchist. They stab each other.

Mike Mignola write an intro for this collection, and in it, he talks about reading Dracula for the first time and reading Anno Dracula for the first time. Based on that intro, and the things I liked about this comic, what I really would like to do is go find Anno Dracula the novel and start reading the series.

 

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