The Romantic Era horror books have done a great deal to influence our culture over the last three hundred plus years. That was the period when the world was introduced to the horrors of Dracula written by Bram Stoker, as well as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein which left us questioning the identity of the real monster. This genre still reverberates throughout our culture. These weren’t one dimensional good guys or bad monsters. The characters written into these stories are complex, and layered, which is why they still have an impact on us today. To see all of this, one just has to pop on Netflix or Hulu and browse the horror section. There are hundreds of movies based off the monsters, and tales from this time period. And every year, that number only grows.
This is where Penny Dreadful#2 comes in. This series of comics are based off the Showtime show that shares the same name. It definitely has its roots in the literature of the Romantic Era. But unlike a lot of the clones we see today, Penny Dreadful takes the high road and produces a cast of characters that like their predecessors centuries ago, are complex and layered.
Penny Dreadful #2 is written by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who was also a screenwriter for the television show. Wilson-Cairns takes us on an intense ride of mystery and horror. She pieces together a familiar story of vampires that echos directly from old Romantic Era novels. Even the way in which the story develops, it feels like a fun nod at the genre. Feelings and emotions take hold over the use of logic. With artist Louie De Martinis, she crafts a dark environment that is right out of some of the best pieces of writing from that period.
There are also horrible creatures that lurk in the shadows. Or, a husband and father fighting each other, just as much as they’re fighting to save their loved one. The writing is engaging as it allows you to easily fall right into the story. One big thing the dialogue lacked was the incorporation of the the Romantic Era language.While this might not be enjoyable for everyone it’s something that would have added another layer to the story allowing you to feel apart of the world. It would also have been very easy to pepper in some of the speech patterns given the writing style Wilson-Cairns uses.
Louie De Martinis does an amazing job. I’ve seen a lot of good work done, but Louie done one hell of a job with the illustrations in this issue. For some artists, horror consists of just gore, blood, and death, but here you see a great deal of complex animation all over the pages. Even in the way everything moves, it just looks right. It’s not just the fact that the characters and environments feel alive, but the way each page is drawn just screams classic horror to me. If that was Louie’s goal, then he succeeded hands down. With the excellent writing by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Louie is able to create a world that is both clear, and yet mysterious for the reader.
Penny Dreadful#2 feels like you just dropped into the world of Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley. The writing is on point with where they want you to be, as well as the illustrations. The dialogue between the characters is full of mistrust, personal motives that are kept from other characters in this issue. Everyone seems to have the same goal in the team this issue, but you soon realize motives and end results aren’t all shared. This shows in my view a realistic behavior between two sets of people that don’t trust each other. The world feels mysterious and terrifying, and the horror is real. If you’re a fan of horror, or just curious, then Penny Dreadful is a good comic series to get into.
- Great nod to Classic Horror in both the writing and illustrations
- Wilson-Cairns writing is so well done, that you fall right into the story
- Louie De Martins made a scary environment for the readers
- Some of the formating of the language could have been closer to the old romantic style