Friday, September 17, 2021

From the Pages of Bram Stoker's 'Dracula': Harker - Review

Author: Tony Lee

Artwork: Neil van Antwerpen & Peter-David Douglas

First published: TPB 2009

Contains spoilers

The blurb: The first graphical 'sequel' to Dracula ever to be endorsed by a member of the Stoker family! Six months after Dracula dies, A ghostly vision informs the Harkers that their work is not yet done - and the Count's last surviving bride returns to London to gain revenge - and use Mina's unborn baby as a new host for Dracula! Featuring introductions from Dacre Stoker, Ian Holt and Leslie S. Klinger, this story includes every major character from the original - alive AND dead!

The review: The title is a mouthful, although the rerelease in 2017 shortened this to Harker, this is a sequel to Dracula in graphic novel form. Before I look at the graphic itself, I want to touch on the forewords mentioned in the blurb – and point out that the one by Elizabeth Miller is missing. They were a mixed bunch. Miller’s was as you would expect, which is great. Klinger’s own release, the New Annotated Dracula, was very good but in it he ran with the announced conceit that he was annotating as though the novel were fact – all well and good but continuing that conceit into the forward for an independent comic book seemed a tad off – bearing in mind that many readers would not know where the conceit came from. Ian Holt’s piece (actually at the back of the volume, along with Dacre Stoker’s and thus not really forewords/introductions) irked when he said of their jointly written sequel “our prime directive was to always be true to Bram’s story, characters and themes.” To understand how much poppycock this is see my review of said sequel. It must be said that this graphic novel is perhaps truer to the original than Holt’s, my thoughts on the guest commentators does not alter my view of the actual graphic.


So, the comic itself is set shortly after the action in Dracula and the crew of light try to regain their lives. However, the first character we see returning posthumously from the novel is Quincy, whose spectral self visits Harker to say that the forces of Dracula move against them. There was a bride (unseen in the novel though twin sister of Countess Dolingen of Gratz from Dracula’s Guest who, in turn, is said to have killed Van Helsing’s son) and she seeks to resurrect Dracula by using Mina’s unborn child. Mina, for her part, regains the scar on her forehead from the communion host and is haunted by Dracula’s spirit, causing her to see him in dreams and when awake. To help with her machinations, Countess Dracule resurrects the corpse of Renfield – undead but not vampire, his broken neck set in a brace to keep his head steady and upright and looking as corpselike as he should.

Whilst the plot is quite contrived in the way it pulls characters back, it does work in that comic book way but, importantly, the actions of the primary human characters feel right. The lore perhaps misses in a couple of places. Dracula’s spirit, visible only to Mina, basks in the sunlight of a morning saying he has not been able to do so for centuries – of course this is wrong and Dracula was quite able to bask in sunlight (albeit without access to supernatural powers).

The art is ok. It has quite a muted colour scheme and I didn’t dislike it but it didn’t wow me either. However, I rather liked this as a whole package. It is fairly short, so whilst it has some interesting ideas it could have been more. There was room for expansion within it, which would have served it well. 6.5 out of 10.

In Paperback @ Amazon US

In Paperback @ Amazon UK

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