Dracula: The Company of Monsters #1

draculacompany01Created & Story by Kurt Busiek
Written by Daryl Gregory
Art by Scott Godlewski

With all the vampire stories running rampant these days, there’s always room for the original-recipe vampire himself, Dracula. From the mind of Kurt Busiek, “Dracula: The Company of Monsters” promises us a Dracula story like no other: set in the modern day and facing off against an unscrupulous company. It sounds fascinating, but it’d be more so if Dracula was actually in it.

It is refreshing that someone has taken the time to lay out the historical origins of the man Bram Stoker used as the template for his novel Dracula and merge them with the fictional character to make a more complete, more accurate version of the world’s most famous vampire lord. While that makes for good reading, it doesn’t do much to advance the story that we were sold in the issue’s solicitations and advertisements. “A powerful, predatory corporation acquires a valuable asset – Dracula!” the original solicit reads. “They think they own him, but no one can own the Son of the Dragon. There’s a monster in their midst that puts Hannibal Lecter to shame – and he plans to gain his freedom in blood.” That’s a great description of the trade for the first arc of this ongoing series, but the first issue is just a taste of that.

The focus is entirely on Evan, a mid-level researcher (we suppose, he’s given no job title, nor much of an idea of what the struggling company he works for actually does) who’s been tasked by his Uncle to research everything he can about Vlad III of Walachia, espeically the weird mystical aspects of Vlad’s life that supposedly turned him into a Vampire. Evan is whisked away by his eccentric Uncle and two mysterious men on a trip to Europe where, on the final page *spoiler alert* Dracula’s skeleton awaits them. Yes, spoiler, Dracula is actually in the issue. A stunning last page reveal of the character that the book is titled after isn’t exactly a cliffhanger; it’s something you’re waiting for since you opened the book and probably why you bought the issue in the first place.

Novelist Daryl Gregory does a good job establishing Vlad’s history, Evan’s likeable cluelessness and the desperate and back-biting environment the family business finds itself in. There are some nice little nods here, like the idea that this is a family business (one tied together by blood, so I see what you did there) and I can’t wait for someone to get impaled on the giant modern art pointed pillar in the company’s atrium later in the series. Godlewski’s art does a good job conveying the emotional action in the book as well as the transitions from the 1400s to modern day. The small bits of action and gore we see here get me very interested as to what we’ll see once the Dragon rises from his slumber and starts offing corporate dickweeds.

Until that happens though, this book will be a slow read that probably will be more enjoyable in trade. I want to read more, but the possibility of the story meandering along even more worries me. 2.5 out of 5 cubes of honey with a surprise inside

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Thacher E. Cleveland is a contributing writer & columnist for PanelsOnPages.com, co-host of the Super-Fly Comics & Games PodCast, novelist & comic creator. Originally from New Jersey and previously from Yellow Springs, Ohio, he currently lives in Chicago. You can find him on Twitter (@demonweasel), tumblr, his personal website and even on Google+

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