Fans of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful television series were less than thrilled, to say the very least, when the period-piece horror effort ended after a three-season run. Thankfully, some of those fans will be appeased with Titan Comics’ new series Penny Dreadful: The Awakening #1, which picks up a few months after the events of the television series finale. With that stated, readers who have not yet finished watching the show should take note that my review will contain spoilers about that finale. If this pertains to you but you are interested in the comic book, rest assured that the folks behind Penny Dreadful: The Awakening are doing right by the TV series; go ahead and finish the third season, and then check back here once you are ready to start the franchise’s comics journey.
The story concerns the discovery by historian Ferdinand Lyle and the Duke of Kent of a sarcophagus inside an Egyptian tomb filled with hieroglyphics that warn of a battle between two forces of evil, with mankind caught in the middle. Lyle insists that the sarcophagus must never leave this resting place, but the Duke takes a more skeptical stance. In London, Ethan Chandler is haunted by having killed his lover Vanessa Ives on her request, in an effort to save humanity from the darkness that ruled her life. Something else is troubling Ethan, as well: a terrible secret that may be beyond his control.
Series producer Chris King is handling the comic’s writing, and in this debut issue, he lays interesting groundwork for a story arc that promises to be even more sweeping in scope — at least in the potential for worldwide destruction — than the television series. One of the wonderful aspects of that series is the mash-up of historical horror characters that it brings together, and Penny Dreadful: The Awakening certainly has the capacity to bring more of these on board.
Jesus Hervas’s illustrations are fantastically detailed, from the marvelous depiction of the tomb to bustling street scenes to horrific visions. Jason Wordie’s colors heighten the sensations perfectly, with a nice balance of muted tones that create a sense of dread and bold, vivid bright colors that highlight some of the book’s more startling panels.
With Penny Dreadful: The Awakening #1, the television series makes a strong transition to the world of comics. King and Hervas are off to a fine start and I’m very much looking forward to seeing where they take this series.