In Review: Brothers Dracul #2

Good action and suspense, with even the quiet moments being powerful.

The cover: A large image of Radu looks to the right with his eyes closed as if considering something heartbreaking. Before him, slightly askew, stands his brother with a wooden hammer. Vlad has just pounded a wooden stake into a vampir whose head has fallen backwards, revealing its horrible visage. The creature has batlike ears, white unholy eyes, and a mouth full of fangs. The form of the beast is dissipating into dust colored gray and faded orange. The background behind the figures is like a cool fall night in blues and grays. This is a great tease by Mirko Colak with Maria Santaolalla of what’s to be found within this issue. Any cover that shows classic monsters in any way gets a big thumbs up from me. Please note: the image accompanying this review has a castle, bats, and the moon in the background. My physical copy did not have these, instead having the sky colored as I have stated. What happened? Their inclusion would most likely have rendered them invisible by the title of the book. Overall grade: A 

The story: The previous issue ended with young Radu and Vlad accompanying Mehmed into a cave to fight an unknown threat. The trio come across a hairy creature with fangs and bat ears gnawing on what’s left of a man. Make no mistake about it, writer Cullen Bunn starts this issue off with the characters right in the belly of the beast. The trio are shocked at what they see, but only Vlad rushes the beast with his pike, stabbing the creature. He can’t hold the monster, which pushes the youth off of him and pulls out the boy’s weapon. Mehmed is frozen, stating, “N-No! S-Stay back!” He’s lifted by his throat and the creature is poised to kill him when a pair of arrows enter its cheek. He drops Mehmed to see that Radu has shot him twice in the face. Another bolt finds its mark in its chest, infuriating the beast. And that’s when additional exciting things occur. The tension of this opening battle is terrific, and Bunn has Mehmed finally reveal to the brothers their goal. The response by Vlad on Page 10 is perfection. The two pages that follow have a great admission that will bind the trio, but obviously lead to greater problems later. Radu has an excellent two paged dialogue with a character that reveals much and Vlad has a visit from a character who appeared in the previous issue. I’m very concerned for this character’s future. The book ends with a three page sequence that shows the level to which one person can be damned. This is a story that one will read at a furious pace to find out what lurks on the next page. Overall grade: A

The art: Mirko Colak is an artist who deserves immense praise. He can create believable looking characters, have them emote splendidly, build outstanding action sequences with tension that constantly rises, and one hell of a creepy looking vampir. The book begins with a close-up of the creature’s nasty sharp teeth with fresh blood flying from them. Each of the boys is then shown reacting to the blaspheme, though only Vlad is fearless. The second page is a full-paged splash as he holds the beast back with his pike. This allows all the previous victims of the vampir to be shown, making the heroes’ chance of victory small. The third page is comprised of several close-ups of Vlad and the creature, creating a rapid pace to their events and making every moment personal as their faces are clearly seen. When the monster is hit by the first of Radu’s arrows it’s very shocking, as the creature and Mehmed are the focus of the previous panel. Radu’s close-up is terrific, for his fear is obvious. The beast’s reaction to this boy trying to whisper himself courage is magnificent: the creature appears to be smiling at what it plans on doing. The action on Page 6 is graphic, though necessary, and it shows the levels that one of the boys is willing to go to be successful. This is an excellent visual precursor of things to come. Radu and Vlad’s faces on the next three pages show their mood as they venture deeper into the cave. Pages 10 and 11 are a double-paged splash that shows their quest will be more difficult than they thought. I like that Colak has his image shown peering over the boys’ backs, so that the reader can experience the horrors with them, but there is a lot of this image that’s hidden because of the boys. It’s a “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” moment for Colak. He’s gotten me pulled into this story and I want to see every horrific detail. As much as I like the horrors, the character conversations are also engaging, with slight head tilts or furrowed brows increasing the text wonderfully. The final three pages are a good tease of horrors to come. Overall grade: A

The colors: Another highly enjoyable elements of the visuals are the colors by Maria Santaolalla. Look how there are scratches of light reds on the vampir’s fans in the introductory panel, a subtle reminder that this creature has been feeding. Crimsons run wild in this issue, but they never drown out the illustrations. Case in point. The second to last panel on the first page shows a recent victim of the creature and it is covered in blood, but the colors of the individual’s flesh and clothes can still be seen. The full paged splash on 2 has the cave in an eerie blue-green, with the creature delightfully blending in with its surroundings, the wail in stark white outlined in violet, the boys in their normal colors, the victims on the ground splattered in orange and brown. Whenever blood appears it’s in a splatter of red, making its every appearance shocking. I am also extremely appreciative of when Santalolalla allows the backgrounds to remain colorless, white; this allows the focus to fall on the characters strongly. Overall grade: A

The letters: Simon Bowland creates the text for this issue which features whispers, sounds, yells, dialogue, and the tease for next issue. I really like the whispered dialogue, done to show characters speaking aloud when they don’t realize they’re doing so. This is done for the boys trying to reconcile what they’re confronting and it’s extremely realistic and makes the visuals much more tense. The sounds are also enjoyable and there are many of them during the confrontation with the vampir. Most impressive are the wails by the undead. Overall grade: A

The final line: The brothers battle the vampir and learn their fates. Good action and suspense, with even the quiet moments being powerful. The art captures the horrors of the monsters well and capture the discomfort of not being in control of one’s future. An excellent read. Overall grade: A

To purchase a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Brothers-Dracul-2/digital-comic/652164?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the cover visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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