Shiny Shelf

Sword of Dracula #1

By Mark Clapham on 10 October 2003

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

Remember the old Hammer Horror Comics? No, neither do I, I hadn’t been born when they were at their peak, but I’ve seen them since – typical grainy, black and white British comics, with characters spinning off from the Hammer movies. ‘Sword of Dracula’ reminds me of those comics, as well as the studio’s contemporary set ‘Dracula’ films, ‘Blade’ and other narratives that drag the Count into the present day.

Its approach is not so much post-modern as pre-modern, harking back to some imaginary time before camp and irony were invented. Anyone expecting the literary wit of Kim Newman’s ‘Anno Dracula’ books is going to be disappointed, but I found the straightforward approach refreshing. The story is pretty stripped down – Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Van Helsing and her crack squad of vampire killers storm one of Dracula’s castles in France, and try to stop him escaping. There’s a huge, gory battle between the vampire hunters and Dracula’s troops, with heavy casualties on both side, but in the end both the key heroes and their nemesis escape to fight another day.

Not exactly ‘Watchmen’, but it works in an old school way. Jason Henderson’s script is the kind of stripped down storytelling you expect from John Wagner, functional but with all the right action in all the right places. Greg Scott’s art is equally more ‘Battle’ than ‘Buffy’, black and white with a lot of detail and heavy use of shadow. As with the writing, a British equivalent springs to mind – in this case the art of Arthur Ranson, although Scott’s work is gloomier, concentrating on atmosphere rather than beauty.

‘Sword of Dracula’ is a refreshingly straightforward horror action comic, and is certainly unique in the current market. Whether this novelty can sustain interest is another matter – while the world of the series is well-realised, vampire yarns are everywhere these days, and ‘Sword’ might, in the long run, offer nothing new. While it’s lack of pretension is enjoyable, the book will need to throw in a few new ideas and clever twists to make its mark.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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