Review: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 1

Volume One

London, 1898. The Victorian Era draws to a close and the twentieth century approaches. It is a time of great change and an age of stagnation, a period of chaste order and ignoble chaos. It is an era in need of champions.

In this amazingly imaginative tale, literary figures from throughout time and various bodies of work are brought together to face any and all threats to Britain.

 Review

Unfortunately I was a little disappointed with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It took me more than half way before I could start to get into it and even then I still wasn’t sure what was so good about it. I have seen the film adaptation, that I liked, but I don’t remember why and I can barely remember the story, so there were aspects of the original that surprised me. Continue reading

Review: Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery

When the Monroe family brings home a small black-and-white bunny they find in the movie theater after seeing Dracula, Chester the cat and Harold the dog are instantly suspicious.

After all the vegetables in the Monroe kitchen start turning white, Chester and Harold are certain that Bunnicula is a vegetarian vampire.

Review

I wanted a rabbit before I read this so now I really want a rabbit, but I want a vampire rabbit! How cute would it be? To have a vampire bunny? I’d never heard of Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe until my mate Tash told me about it late last year. Naturally, when I find out it is about a rabbit who might be a vampire, and then I see the cover of it with it’s little vampire teeth, I had to get it straight away. Continue reading

Comic Review: Dracula

Before the dozens of night stalkers slain by Buffy, there was the first and the best: Dracula. And now everyone’s favorite bloodsucker is back, and captured in a thrillingly told, spine-tingling graphic novel.

Originally written by Bram Stoker in 1897, Dracula gave the world one of literature’s most compelling characters. Michael Mucci translates the tale and Ben Caldwell adds action-packed images—with meticulous attention paid to the finer details in each piece of art, from facial expressions to the historical accuracy of costuming, architecture, and heraldry.

For years I read and watched adaptations of Bram Stoker’s Dracula before I even read the book. Beforehand I did not have the original to compare to, but now that I do, I still find myself enjoying them and not being overly critical, if I am critical at all sometimes.

This adaptation I couldn’t help myself though because even though the amount of the original story used is far better than expected there’s still something to be desired. It isn’t so much what has been cut out from the original, but what has been left out between panels so the story doesn’t flow smoothly in places, leaving it to feel disjointed and even confusing at times. I know I have mentioned in previous reviews for comics that I can get easily confused, but after doing my comic reading challenge and nearing the end of it, I’ve learnt to appreciate the difference between my problem of following and a graphic novels’ lack of seamlessness.

Other than that it isn’t a badly done graphic novel. It is aimed at a younger audience and that would probably explain the art. There isn’t anything wrong with the art, in fact it is pretty good, but for me it is too cute. Not only for an old school horror story, but for Dracula. That doesn’t feel right to me and I also feel that the story, and any sinister aspects it may have had, wasn’t at it’s full impact because of it. But if the art is done the way it was to help lesson the horror of it then it has achieved what it was meant to do, which is cater to a younger audience with an intriguing story.

  • Genre: Horror, Supernatural
  • Comic or Graphic: Graphic Novel
  • Published: 2008 by Sterling Publishing
  • Adapted From: Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Rating Out of Five: 3
  • Challenges: The Two Month Comic Challenge

Review: Vlad The Impaler Graphic Novel

I was going to post a Sunday Covers today which isn’t quite finished yet, but my net is acting up a lot and won’t be back to normal by tomorrow so instead I will swap it with a review I was going to post tomorrow which is ready.

And sorry to everyone who has left a comment, but I probably won’t be answering it till later on when the net is back to normal. It has a tendency to time out too much. Don’t you love it when the net stuffs up? Anyway, here’s my proper post.

The Dracula myth has sparked a legacy of endlessly entertaining creepy tales. The fictional character, originally penned by Bram Stoker, was inspired by and named after a real-life fiend-Prince Vlad Dracula, the fifteenth-century ruler of Wallachia-a man infamous for massacring and impaling his enemies. In brilliant four-colour illustrations, Vlad the Impaler tells the ghastly prince’s life story from his seizure as a boy by the Turkish Sultan, to his love life, to his maniacal attempts to retain power regardless of whose throat he must slit.

If you’re like me and have had a long interest in Vlad Tepes, the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula, then while reading this you might want to remind yourself that it is fiction based on the man and not a biography.

I say that because I have been interested in the man and the myths behind Dracula for years, watched countless documentaries, read articles and basically researched it on and off for a long time, so naturally I’m going to nitpick just a bit. I started doing that straight away, caught myself doing it, and then told myself that this is a story. It is a story based on someone in history, but a story nonetheless and as soon as I realised that I began to really enjoy Vlad The Impaler: The Man Who Was Dracula.

Not that the history is incorrect, but it’s not correct to minute detail of course and it does conflict with a lot of other sources I’ve come across, but so do a lot of other sources conflict with each other. Don’t let all that turn you off reading it or appreciating this graphic novel. It does follow his life very well.

It’s like a history lesson, but without the lecture or feeling of a lesson. It’s a very good portrayal of a man who was a psychopath and the art does not shy away from showing what Vlad did. In saying that, there is a lot of blood and violence, but it’s not gratuitous so it is still readable by people who may be squeamish. It’s down played enough that it is not shoved down your throat, but you still get a really good idea of the level of violence in that time.

Vlad The Impaler is also not just a portrayal of a mad man, but it shows too the wars between religion, the greed, and madness that can be present in humankind.

I think what I really love about this graphic novel is not the story itself, not the art, but the last chapter when you discover who the narrator is. I feel it’s a great twist and to me it helps how the chapter is presented in the beginning. Each chapter has it’s own cover art at the beginning, but chapter seven’s cover page is all blacked out and that is how it ends as well. That gives it more of an artistic edge for me which is something I appreciate.

This may end up being one of those graphic novels that is added to my own personal library because it really is a good, albeit quite fictional, portrayal of a madman.

Requiem Chevalier Vampire

So I posted yesterday that I received Volume II of Requiem in the mail and I was planning to read it straight away because I had been hanging for it.

There’s one thing I really don’t like about a good graphic novel – it’s over so fast! Even when I’m taking my time and trying to savour it, I still finish it all too quickly and now I’m a tad upset because I have to wait for the next one.

Yes. I admit it. I’m sulking. I’m sulking over a graphic novel.

I actually find it hard to get into comics or graphic novels or whatever you wish to call them and tried some well known ones (Watchmen, V for Vedetta, 300) before I finally came across Heavy Metal Magazine and comics I really enjoyed because when it comes to comics and graphic novels I’m not just interested in the story. If the art isn’t up to scratch I can still enjoy it if the story is any good, but it won’t rock my world and I won’t get excited over it.

This is one of the things I love about Requiem – the art. Olivier Ledroit is a great artist and the art in Requiem is so dark and detailed, it’s the first thing that actually drew me to the story (I have a tendency to flick through the Heavy Metal magazines when I first get them and decide what story I’m going to read first based on the art I see). So you have this gorgeous, dark imagery coupled with an interesting setting and some lines that actually make me laugh.

The story is about Heinrich who was a Nazi soldier in WW2 and his love affair with a Jewish woman, Rebecca. Usually I’d be all ‘ewww love affair’ but it’s so much more then that. Heinrich ends up going to Hell except Hell isn’t what one would expect. Not everyone, but some people, get resurrected as something else. Either ghouls, werewolves, lamias, zombies, or vampires. There’s a class order though and the lower classes are all but the vampires who follow a code, a twisted dark code that suits the setting, and command respect (normally through fear).

The aging process is different too. Rather then spend all eternity in Hell, the people resurrected don’t age, but grow younger until they reach infancy and vanish (I’ll leave out where they vanish to for anyone who wants to read it).

Also what someone is resurrected as is based on what they did in life, but rather then being the worst punishment for the worst crime it’s the opposite. The worst, most heinous acts, get rewarded and the better you were on Earth the worst your punishment. So these vampires that come back are the lowest of the low in real life. The monsters of civilisation, but they don’t get off scot-free. They’re still plagued by their old lives and their crimes.

Heinrich ends up being resurrected as a Vampire Knight and being renamed Requiem. The story follows him, his love affair with Rebecca, and the changes he goes through. I might be making it sound lame though because there’s more to it then that it’s just I don’t want to give it away. There’s lots of other little stories going on and it can jump from the present in Resurrection to the past when these people were still on Earth.

I highly recommend it if you’re into a darker, more sordid style of comic with great art. I say sordid not because it’s trashy and gratuitous when it comes to sex even though there is a deep sexual under current, nudity, some sado-masochism, innuendo, and well sex, but it’s not over run by it. It does really focus on the story, the sexual nature of it is really just part of the decadence of it because the vampires really are a decadent species in this book with their masked balls, clothing, blood and drugs.

Oh and I should add, because of all it’s violence (because there is a lot of violence), sex, and just the basic darker nature of it, it’s not going to be for everyone nor for younger readers. I love this sort of sado-masochistic, twisted, dark sort of stuff so naturally I’m going to love it, but not everyone will. Even if you don’t though I still recommend at least checking out the art if you can on Ledroit’s website (the image links to his site).

Bram Stoker and New Page

I added a new page for reading challenges which you can find on the side panel there and in my wanderings I came across yet more titles by Bram Stoker that I didn’t know about.

Even though I’ve only read two of his books so far – Dracula and The Lair of The White Worm – I am a Bram Stoker fan and have kept an eye out for his other titles (I also just like collecting like any other bibliophile). Unfortunately they can be hard to find. The Lair of The White Worm was really a fluke which I came across at a book fair, but otherwise I haven’t had much luck coming across any others.

There are a lot of people out there who have read Dracula and don’t realise how many books he actually wrote. His books are a combination of novels, short story collections, and non fiction. I’m interested to check out his non fiction because he not only has an interesting way of writing, but an interesting imagination too (or so I have concluded after reading The Lair of The White Worm), so I wonder what a man like that with a mind like that would come up with when writing non fiction.

I’m still looking into his non fiction so for now I’ll give a list of his novels (besides Dracula and I apologise for the lack of synopsis for some of them).

The Primrose Path (published in 1875)

Jerry O’Sullivan, honest Dublin theatrical carpenter, moves to London, seeking a better job. Against the better judgement of the people surrounding him, Jerry decides to go to the metropolis with his faithful wife Katey. O’Sullivan is hired as head carpenter in a squalid theatre in London, but after several misfortunes he is strongly tempted by and eventually brought down by alcohol.

The Snake’s Pass (published in 1890)

The Snake’s Pass is about a troubled romance between an English landlord and an untutored Celtic peasant. Of all Bram Stoker’s novels, The Snake’s Pass speaks most openly about the contemporary political climate in Ireland.

The Watter’s Mou’ (published in 1895)

The problem was that the fisherman had fallen on hard times, and had turned to smuggling. Putting a stop to smuggling was William Barrow’s sworn duty. It’s a recipe for disaster: nothing good can come of this night. And down at the watter’s mou’, a terrible fate awaits them all in the stormy night to come — for William Barrow, for his love, and for the fisherman who is her father.

The Shoulder of Shasta (published in 1895)

I’m having trouble finding a proper synopsis of this novel, but I have been able to gather that it is a romance set in the U.S.A.

Miss Betty (published in 1898)

Another one I’m having trouble finding a proper synopsis with, but I know it’s another romance (man loves his romance)

The Mystery of The Sea (published in 1902)

Archie Hunter is on vacation on Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire, when he begins to see strange visions of death. An old local woman, Gormala, possesses the same gift — the ‘second sight’ — and informs Archie of an ancient legend of “the mystery of the sea.”  According to this legend, when a “golden man” with “death as his bride” should die at Lammas-tide, the mystery will be revealed.

But more mysteries ensue: Archie purchases an old chest to furnish his new home, and finds inside a number of 16th century papers in code, which he believes give the location of a lost treasure of the Spanish Armada.  While meditating on these puzzles, he perceives two women shipwrecked and in distress, and he rushes to save them.  One of the women is Marjory, a beautiful young American with a dangerous secret…
Lost treasures, ancient codes, and strange prophecies are not Archie and Marjory’s only problem.  She is pursued by a group of bandits seeking to kidnap and ransom her, and a sinister Spaniard will stop at nothing to prevent them from discovering the treasure…

Can Archie and Marjory avoid the snares of the spies, survive the Spaniard’s wiles, decipher Gormala’s riddle, and solve the Mystery of the Sea?

The Jewel of Seven Stars (published in 1903)

“Hither the Gods come not at any summons. The Nameless One has insulted them and is forever alone. Go not nigh, lest their vengeance wither you away!”

The warning was inscribed on the entrance of the hidden tomb, forgotten for millennia in the sands of mystic Egypt. Then the archaeologists and grave robbers came in search of the fabled Jewel of Seven Stars, which they found clutched in the hand of the mummy. Few heeded the ancient warning, until all who came in contact with the Jewel began to die in a mysterious and violent way–with the marks of a strangler around their neck.

The Man or The Gates of Life (published in 1905)

Another one that I’m having trouble finding a synopsis of, but you can read it online (a lot of e-reading sites come up if you google it) and I have gathered it is another romance.

Lady Athylne (published in 1908)

Joy Ogilvie, the beautiful young daughter of a Kentucky colonel, plays a joke with her friends, pretending to be “Lady Athlyne”, after hearing a story about the dashing Irish nobleman Lord Athlyne. Little does she know that half a world away, the real Lord Athlyne is a prisoner of war in a South African camp, where word reaches him that a woman in America is impersonating his wife.

Upon his release, he decides to investigate the situation and travels to New York, where a near-fatal accident introduces him to Joy and her father. Athlyne and Joy fall instantly in love-but a series of misadventures and dangerous obstacles threatens to prevent their marriage. And when Colonel Ogilvie learns of their affair and challenges Athlyne to a duel to the death, their love just may end in tragedy!

The Lady of The Shroud (published in 1909)
Adrift off the coast of the fictional Blue Mountains is a small coffin containing a white-shrouded woman. She rises, soaking wet, from the sea, and seeks refuge in the Castle of Vissarion in the middle of the night. The rich young Rupert Leger lets the mysterious beauty in, but who is she?

The Lair of The White Worm (published in 1911 and also adapted into film in 1988 which stars Hugh Grant)

In a tale of ancient evil, Bram Stoker creates a world of lurking horrors and bizarre denizens: a demented mesmerist, hell-bent on mentally crushing the girl he loves; a gigantic kite raised to rid the land of an unnatural infestation of birds, and which receives strange commands along its string; and all the while, the great white worm slithers below, seeking its next victim…

If you’d like more information on Bram Stoker check out bramstoker.org.