• Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter #1



    Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter #1
    Released by: Titan Comics
    Released on: September 27th, 2017.
    Written by: Dan Abnett
    Illustrated by: Tom Mandrake
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    A single page of text brings us up to speed – in the 17th century career soldier Captain Kronos has returned home to find his family murdered by vampires. He swears to kill every last vampire on Earth and with his assistants Grost and Carla, sets out to do just that. When this latest chapter in his exploits begins, he’s in a forest in the heart of Romania where vampire forces have gathered with the intention of taking him out of the picture permanently.

    When the comic proper begins, Kronos is about to do away with a vampire named Porphyr that he’s pursued for years. They fight, and it goes in Kronos’ favor… until Porphyr calls in his army of braindead hordes, each one completely under the vampire’s control. Kronos leaps into the fray, sword in hand, with Grost soon at his side to help turn the tide of battle. Soon after, Carla, who serves as our narrator for this chapter, jumps into the mix and breaks the tooth of Porphyr himself before Kronos puts a stake through his art to be done with all of this.

    With the battle over, Grost wonders what brought these vampires away from their habitat and out into the woods – atypical behavior for their type. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of a small army intent on taking Kronos and the others in to see justice served. When Kronos announces to their leader who he is and what he does, all is quickly forgiven as they escort the three to the town of Serechurch, an old border town. Upon their arrival the alderman, Ermine, welcomes them and then tells them of their problem: a vampire named Slake. He encourages the three to stay for breakfast while he assembles the city council to discuss details. It’s then that secretary Hallow tells them the town’s history, their problems with reavers from the north, how they overcame that and survived the plague, but how since then, for the last ten years, a damned thing, Slake, has ruled a certain section of the town, preying upon its populace after having built a clan around it. The town’s attempts to drive it and its clan out have resulted in nothing but more death.

    Kronos can’t say no to a challenge like this…

    Dan Abnett’s script is in keeping with the ‘vibe’ set out by the original film. It feels right. Essentially a continuation of the story told in that movie, this first issue gives us everything you’d want from a Kronos story – action, adventure, horror, intrigue and a bit of sex appeal too. It works quite well, setting up what will surely be some fairly intense issues to come and re-establishing the good Captain as a man you do not want to trifle with. Having Carla serve as the narrator is a nice touch too, as she’s the new recruit. As such, we learn of her doubts, her fears but also her confidence, how she learns from her experiences with Kronos and Grost. We also get some insight into what makes them tick and how she feels about working alongside them. Given that this is set in the 17th century, it makes sense that she’d experience sexism first hand, but Abnett writes her as a strong character, the kind that quickly puts men foolish enough to underestimate her in their spot. It’s clever, sometimes humorous.

    As to the artwork, who better than Tom Mandrake to illustrate a book like this? His work on DC’s The Spectre ongoing series in the nineties was great (it’s what got this writer interested in his artwork) and showed he could handle horror and the macabre just as well as he could any superhero material, though to be fair this character is basically a mix of both. Regardless, Mandrake’s style suits the tone of the story really well. There’s nice detail and layouts, the vampires ‘move’ with an appropriate amount of ferocity and the backgrounds and architecture that populates them are never short shifted. Coloring work from Mandrake’s daughter Sian helps here too, helping to bring the pencils to life nicely without ever seeming oversaturated or artificially boosted.

    In the back pages of this first issue is a text piece in which Hammer historian Marcus Hearn explores the origins of the Captain Kronos character and the film that debuted in 1974 that never did spawn the sequels that the studio had hoped for. There’s some great archival pictures in here as well as some storyboard art – and then at the end a cover gallery showing off the three different variant covers available for this first issue (including a black and white photo cover featuring the lovely Caroline Munro in character from the film).

    All in all, a really strong first issue. Here’s hoping subsequent chapters are just as good!