A New Breed of Vampire Hunter in Brothers Dracul #2
Vampires and Ottomans and blood oaths, oh my! Brothers Dracul #2 sees the titular brothers accompany the sultan’s son into the vampire lair in order to fulfill a sacred duty. In a strange religious-leader-meets-Night’s-Watch sort of way, the trio finds themselves roped into an ancient tradition that none of them are prepared for. While Vlad continues to brood about his lot in life, Radu begrudgingly accepts his fate.
While most retellings of classic monster stories are ill-advised at best, Cullen Bunn manages to deliver a fresh take on the Dracula legend. By blending historical fact with the fantastical elements of the vampire myth, Bunn is able to turn one of history’s most bloodthirsty conquerors into a sympathetic hero. Yes, Vlad and Radu were royal prisoners of the Ottoman Empire. Yes, the man who would one day become Vlad the Impaler learned history, war, and politics from his captors. The big divergence from history here? All of the vampires.
Bunn’s biggest success in Brothers Dracul #2 is his giving the brothers agency of their own. The easy thing would be to have the plot force them into making things happen. Narratively it would fit too; the brothers are prisoners. It would make sense for their captors to force them into making decisions the would further the plot. Instead, Bunn writes the brothers as characters making decisions all their own. Within the confines of their captivity, sure, but they choose to lie for Mehmed. They choose to keep fighting. They choose to continue to hunt vampires, even after they are offered an out. Where Brothers Dracul #2 falters in a clear direction for the story, it’s the characters that continue to elevate the series.
Brothers Dracul #2 is my first encounter with Mirko Colak’s art. Let me tell you, the man can draw faces like nobody else. Each one is unique in design, full of emotion in each panel. From looks of terror to disgust to resignation, Colak’s faces drew me in and immersed me in this violent world.
What left me wanting were the vampires themselves. Don’t get me wrong, they are not bad designs by any means, but I don’t think they are particularly inspired. At least not in this issue. Actually, the vampire design on the cover of the book is a better design than the one that shows up in the issue. That gives me hope that we’ll see different types of vampires as the series progresses.
Colorist Maria Santaolalla greatest contributions are in the gory battle sequences. Paired with Colak’s art, it makes for some truly unsettling images. These stand-out scenes are what really brought this issue together for me.
Brothers Dracul is a surprising favorite new series of mine. I’m always wary when a writer tries to do their own retelling of a classic monster story, but Bunn knocked it out of the park. Brothers Dracul #2 is a great second installment of this series. It pushes deeper into the inner workings of the Vlad and Radu, while continuing to expand on the vampire myth. Though the pacing left something to be desired, the character moments more than make up for it.
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