An ambush in Coventry. A train explosion kills all but one passenger. Vampires are dying, but their government covers it up. Why don’t they want word to get out that mortals are the cause? Find out in Mortal Terror #1 from Dark Horse Comics!
MORTAL TERROR #1
Writer: Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
Artist: Peter Bergting
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Clem Robins
Editor: Kath O’Brien
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: November 22, 2023
Previously in Mortal Terror: In the time of Dracula, imagine a world where the vampires are in charge. When some of them meet their deaths, rumors of mortals start to spread. But the authorities don’t believe that these mortals even exist!
WHO IS KILLING THE VAMPIRES?
Mortal Terror #1 opens on a train where Jonathan Harker is a passenger. A little girl starts chatting to him and he politely replies. Then there is an explosion. He runs through the train and reaches a car where the passengers scream as they burst into flames, crying out about the sun. He runs back through the train and leaps out, landing outside at the mouth of a tunnel. He is in the shadows, but his foot extends into the sunlight and bursts into flames. Vampires, it would appear, are the norm.
A covered coach races toward London. Last night in Coventry, there was an ambush by mortals. One of the vampires was very badly wounded. Commander Westenra drives the coach despite the burning of the sun, which has caught up with them. They reach the gate to the underground city and charge through the gates. We learn that Quincey was not merely stabbed; he was stabbed with silver. Westenra brings him to a hospital where he undergoes a desperate operation.
Jonathan Harker arrives at the Ministry of Internal Affairs where he meets with Charlotte, the woman in charge. The King has been moved to a safe location. Jonathan was the only survivor of the train explosion, and he insists it was an attack by mortals. But the official line of the Ministry is that “mortals” are a myth.
R. W. Renfield is a resident at an asylum. He talks about someone called Gabrielle, and how he is trying to get closer to the sun and to her. He creeps out of his cell and through the underpinnings of the asylum to where he spies on Madeleine. Dr. Seward is a vampire. Madeleine claims she used to be a vampire, but she has returned to her normal state. He calls her a mortal savage. She claims his King probably knows the truth. But vampires’ memories fade and that is why they don’t remember their origins.
Jonathan and Charlotte continue their heated discussion. He insists that she cannot continue to deny the truth. He has had to cover up several recent sun-suicides which he feels were murders. He was carrying classified information when the train was attacked. Charlotte scoffs at this; for mortals to know that kind of information, they would have to have a spy. Lucy Westenra arrives, still reeking of smoke from the sun. She claims that someone must be drawing the little factions of mortals together. But Charlotte cannot do more unless they can convince the King that the threat exists. She tells them to bring her a mortal.
Dr. Seward continues his work on Madeleine. He has been using her for research, but he counsels her to consider what will happen to her if she is no longer useful to him. Renfield sees all of this and draws a parallel to his Gabrielle. If he brings word of this to his master, maybe he will get to see his Gabrielle again.
A LIFE IN DARKNESS
The art of Mortal Terror #1 fits beautifully with the tone of the story. The color palette is muted, often in sepia tones. This not only helps to communicate that the setting is in the past, but it reflects the eternal twilight of the vampires. What is wonderful about this is that we don’t realize this at first. When the story opens, it seems like this was simply a stylistic choice. It is when we see the contrast of the flames and see the immolations that we realize this is a world where vampires are the norm. But despite all their power, they have vulnerabilities.
I also like the hospital scene for its sheer style. The surgeon and his team of assistants wear plague doctor-type masks. The operation is rough and barbaric, and Quincey is conscious throughout, which is horrifying. They transfuse him with “red,” by which we infer blood. The surgeon is providing him with some from his private supply, which is a fascinating concept. And we recall that Charlotte also offered Jonathan some “red.” With the later discussion of vampires losing their memories, and believing that mortals are a myth, do they even realize where “red” comes from?
BOTTOM LINE: A TWIST ON A CLASSIC TALE
I love a story that turns a familiar setting on its head, and Mortal Terror #1 delivers on the mythology of Dracula. That the main characters are familiar gives us a touchstone that draws us into the story, and the sense of intrigue gives it some good dramatic tension.
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Mortal Terror #1
Imagine a world where vampires are the norm – and mortals are the myth!