The following are impressions of content, not descriptions of the content itself. Spoilers are kept to a bare minimum, so if you want to know what happens, go visit your local comic shop and get your hands on the book.
The first issue of the new Penny Dreadful comics mini-series, “The Awakening”, written by Chris King and illustrated by Jesús Hervás, takes us beyond the television run with the intention of giving at least a taste of what season 4 would have been like, had it happened. In full disclosure, I have not yet seen the final season of the TV show, so I went into this with a few holes in my knowledge. However, the prologue caught me up on what I needed to know and I didn’t have much trouble following along. It picks up six months after the end of the previous season and follows two plotlines, one, a story of the haunted Ethan Chandler’s continuing quest to control the darkness within him, and the other, about Sir Malcolm, Mr. Lyle, and an ancient Egyptian evil rearing its ugly head in British polite society.
I enjoyed the story well enough, though it is always tough to judge by one issue. The characters felt true to their personalities on the show, still, there are few, if any, exceptional character moments. The story did have a definite sense of purpose, a feeling that this is all leading up to something terrible, and that was the book’s strength. Conversely, at times it seemed to drag a little. There was a lot left to dialogue that could have worked better if shown through the wonderful art, and that made it feel exposition heavy at times.
On the illustration side of things, Hervás has done incredible things in these panels. His bright-eyed characters carry their Victorian aura well and there is a strong sense of the world through the shadowy English set pieces and stark Egyptian scenes laid before us throughout. Perhaps just as powerful as the line art in this book is the coloring done by Jason Wordie. He brilliantly elucidates the emotion of each location’s palette with soft, but insistent color schemes.
I also read the 5-issue prequel mini series, simply called Penny Dreadful, and felt similarly, it was a well done, but not enthralling volume. Perhaps it is the trap of adaptations from other mediums, they tend to fall short for me, as it is often difficult to capture the essence of what made the original great. That said, if you enjoyed Penny Dreadful when it was on TV and you like comics, you will get your money’s worth with this series. The art is phenomenal, and it is an entertaining read if nothing else. Though I won’t be kicking in my local shop’s doors on days The Awakening gets released, I will keep an eye out for it over the next few months.
Penny Dreadful: The Awakening Part 1 of 4, produced by Titan Comics, will be on shelves both physical and digital on April 5th. If you’re a fan, and you’re in LA on that day, Chris King will be doing a signing between 6pm and 7pm at Meltdown Comics, so pop on in.
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Steven is many things: critic, podcaster, writer, poet, windbag, charlatan. He enjoys comics and cartoons exactly as much as a grown man should.