Penny Dreadful borrowed its core characters from the timelessly irresistible cannon of gothic folklore, yet it still screamed with effortless originality and oozed with the depravity of the epoch’s dark underbelly. This new comic book series brings these heroes and villains back to the literary arena, but it sadly lacks the depth and dialogue of the sensational three-season show. This doesn’t, however, mean the text isn’t without its intrigue.
Penny Dreadful: The Awakening follows two parallel plot arcs: the fate of the survivors after the death of our haunted heroine, Vanessa Ives, and the discovery of a sarcophagus which predicts the untimely “annihilation of mankind”. When this cursed artefact is carted back to the city for an exhibition at the Natural History Museum, the evil within is unleashed by an occultist order called the Sons of Darkness.
This first edition promises future volumes which allude to the likes of The Mummy and Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness, but the tone is a huge deviation from the derelict moodiness captured by director J. A. Bayona, despite some wonderful artwork by Jesús Hervás. The script and storytelling also lack the quality of show creator John Logan (Ferdinand Lyle, for example, has lost his endearing eloquence and eccentricities).
There is, however, a wonderful postscript, ‘The Penny Dreadful Family’, which provides unique insights into the production of the show. Importantly, this debut is authored by one of the original producers, Chris King, who details his passion for the programme’s cast and creativity. “And so began the journey that would change my life forever,” he pens. “It was a journey of creating a whole new family.” Penny Dreadful: The Awakening isn’t without its flaws, but there is still plenty of interest here for the diehard fans.
5 April 2017