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Titan Comics’ Penny Dreadful: The Awakening #3 and #4 continue to address story angles inspired by the original television series. Although the comic book series naturally leans heavily on its original source material, it’s accessible enough that fans who are unfamiliar with the TV series can understand the proceedings if diving headlong into the Penny Dreadful world here first.
Issue three sees a strong focus on backstory that takes place in ancient Egypt. Princess Amunet, betrothed to Amun-Ra but in love with Belial, hears voices. The source is none other than Lucifer, pursuing her as he would Vanessa centuries later. She begins finding claw marks on her body — coming from the inside out. Amun-Ra believes that Belial is the cause of these strange marks, and summons his diabolical minions to go after him. Later, in the desert, Belial strikes a deal with a witch to empower himself for a counter attack. No spoilers here, but suffice it to say that events play out in a manner that connects Vanessa’s body to these ancient occurrences.
Issue 4 brings the action back to the series’ present day. Belial and his minions storm 8 Grandage Place. Malcolm and Ethan send the others into the basement, after which Ethan confesses about his true beastly nature. The Duke of Kent lives up to his servant of Lucifer role and tricks Ethan, allowing Belial to bind him in silver chains that will cut off his wrists if he takes his werewolf form. Things go seriously south for our protagonists from there, but some unexpected allies are sought to fight against the evil forces. A great deal of exciting action takes place until this installment in the series ends with a great deal of potential for issue 5, which is due in September.
Series producer Chris King, who is handling the comic’s writing, continues delivering a well-planned storyline that never feels rushed or plodding. The pacing is exhilarating and the characters feel like well-developed extensions of their television counterparts. Issue 3 lost me momentarily with its Egypt-set side trip but issue 4 brought me right back into the thick of things.
Jesus Hervas’s illustrations are wonderfully detailed, and Jason Wordie’s colors bring either a brash, bold vividness or a dark, eerie feeling, depending on what is needed. Many action and horror panels practically leap off the page.
With Penny Dreadful: The Awakening #3 and #4, King and Hervas have set up elements that could spell doom not just for the main cast of protagonists, but for the entire world. Issue 5 is something to anticipate.