Sunday, March 09, 2014

Nosferatu: Plague of Terror – review

Created by: Mark Ellis

Designed by: Melissa Martin-Ellis

Artwork: Rik Levins, Richard Pace and Frank Turner

First published: 1991, 2009 trade pb

Contains spoilers

The blurb: Nosferatu

A chilly draft from doomsday…

The vile plague of Baron Orlock, The Nosferatu, stretches across history from Dark Ages Europe to modern day Manhattan in this compelling prelude and sequel to the legendary F. W. Murnau film Nosferatu, A symphony of Horrors.

No vampiric figure is more iconic or terrifyingly memorable than Nosferatu… a cadaverous monster with a calculating glint of utter evil in his hellish eyes who feasts not just upon human blood but upon human souls.

The review: In the introduction to this volume, author Mark Ellis made it his stated aim to extricate the Orlock character from the Dracula character that birthed him and I would say he pretty much does that. He also wanted a vampire that epitomised evil and was no Goth fanboy and I think he was successful in this too – though as I’ll explain I think the comic could have withstood a longer run and a deeper inquiry into the Orlock character.

In Modern day Brooklyn corpses are found, killed by bubonic plague. One has a book, the journal of a Knight called William Longsword. Returning from the crusades his squire manages to unleash the evil that is Orlock. Orlock bites the knight but, for reasons never fully explained, Longsword does not turn. He becomes immortal and the vampire’s nemesis – though it is not until the Raj that they face each other again and once again in Vietnam. Longsword is not your atypical good guy either, he is willing to kill the innocent for the greater good.

The story works well but I would have liked more, more exploration of Orlock, more moments between the 11th century and the Raj – though, of course, the Longsword character wasn’t privy to those moments in time. However we are where we are, story wise, this is a fairly old comic given new life as a trade paperback.

The artwork is functional throughout, occasionally lovely. Sometimes the character of Orlock seems a little too comic book, which is the best way I can describe it and I think I expected a more timeless element to the character’s design. Unfortunately I found that some of the printed pages were perhaps a little less crisp than others. However it didn’t detract from the overall experience. 7.5 out of 10.

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