Dracula World Order Written by Ian Brill
Art by Tonci Zonjic, Rahsan Ekedal, Declan Shalvey, Gabriel Hardman
Colors by Stephen Downer, Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Josh Krach
Cover by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire Ian Brill (Independent)
Release Date: June 22, 2012
Cover Price: $3.99
As a huge vampire geek I notice the undead and bloodthirsty seem to fall into three main categories within pop culture. There is the vamp with lots of deep feelings who sweats being us hard enough to eternally attend high school, or to get a soul so they can date humans, the hyper-sexualized type who makes us feel less dirty since we are merely humans under their superior thrall and therefore cannot be held accountable for our own actions, or the last and rarest variety: the monster in the night who believes the living are a delicious snack food or a means to an end. Dracula World Order strongly subscribes to the latter school of thought and while it expresses lofty ideas about the current state of political/economic affairs, manages to be a bloody good bit of gory fun as well.
Writer Ian Brill created and released this independent one-shot (at least for now) about the person most likely to be stupidly brave enough to take on the world’s most famous vampire and attempt to topple his empire,”¦ his kid. Prince Alexandru (who has a very cool backstory I won’t ruin for you) has dealt with his Dad’s antics for two hundred years or so. Enslavement of 99% of the human race as slaves or tasty treats by the 1% or the elite (i.e., wealthy) Dracula deemed worthy enough to bestow the dark gift upon seemed to be a final breaking point in the Father/Son dynamic. He doesn’t march in alone however, and the enlistment of a small army of Dracula’s wronged includes some of the most famous monsters and some real surprises too. This comic is broken up into four chapters that mostly depict Alexandru recruiting his yet rather small but motivated army and scenes from the new world, handcrafted by vampires. I especially love the virtual reality type environment created as a daytime resort for the undead, very Fahrenheit 451. Brill really makes an effort to create a nuanced world in an otherwise traditional action/horror comic set up.
He was brave enough to assemble a little art army of his own of four renowned artists and two colorists. I tend to think too many cooks in the proverbial kitchen tend to end up a hot mess but this comic feels cohesive even with all the unique styles present. Standouts for me include the gleefully menacing cover by 30 Days of Night’s Declan Shalvey with Jordie Bellaire that seems to announce that “the things contained in this comic are coming to get you and they do not feel bad about it” and Echoes‘ Rahsan Ekedal who I am unfamiliar with, but after his chapter, not for long. He used a very distinct jewel toned, delicate, almost fairy tale style that was fascinating to look at and really lent itself to the 1897 Romanian flashback scenes from Prince Alexandru’s ill-fated fanged childhood. Every artist brought something different to the table however, so if you like traditional crime noir, splatterpunk, or old fashioned comics with lots of “Aieeees and Kerumphs” in bubbled panels, everyone is pretty much covered, in blood even.
I believe what holds this book together with all the seemingly disparate elements and constant barrage of new characters and action scenes is the unified overall vision. Simply put, Dracula must die because at least in this story he is corrupt, murderous and quite gross and it takes an army o’ monsters to do it. Brill’s afterword mentions this comic as a one-off but implied we have not heard the last of his supernatural or genetically modified army. I think the potential is there for this to be the new independent sensation and I can see this comic appealing to several age groups and countless varieties of genre fiction fans. It’s hard to keep the blood fresh on a vampire story these days and while Brill obviously pays homage to the past he seems to be truly committed to discussing modern society through the traditionally less galvanizing lens of the fantastic. This is a very creative story and although Brill only had 300 comics printed so far he may want to reconsider his numbers and finish up a “One-Shot #2.”