Wednesday, May 12, 2010
He's journey to the Old West and battled Billy the Kid. He's terrorized both Gotham City and Sunnydale. He's had close encounters with Frankenstein's Monster, Blade, Solomon Kane, and Abbot and Costello. He has bedded Queen Victoria and been hunted by the Vatican. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say that Dracula is the most promiscuous character in Western Literature.
Adam Beranek, Christian Beranek, and artist Chris Moreno have added one more notch to Dracula's literary bedpost with Dracula vs. King Arthur. Dracula vs. King Arthur was originally published in 2005 by Silent Devil, but now it's being released page-by-page online.
Why pit the Prince of Darkness against the Once and Future King? Well the latter is England's greatest legendary hero, the former one of its most fearsome villains. But it's not England that the brothers Beranek use to connect the fictional foes. It's God.
I'm a sucker for good pulp, so I was a little disappointed to see that Dracula vs. King Arthur is played pretty straight. But if they're going to play it straight, at least the Beraneks have cooked up a good story. They paint both King Arthur and Vlad Tepes as rulers trying to defend their kingdoms in the service of God. Arthur defends England through virtue and chivalry, while Tepes defends Wallachia through brutal violence. But after years of waging war against the Turks, Tepes is in crisis. His wife has killed herself and his brother has allied with the Turks to finally wrest Wallachia from Tepes' grasp. His only hope is for God to give him his ultimate reward.
But one night, a vaguely Lovecraftian Lucifer summons the Impaler and tells him that his service to God was all for naught. Vlad may get to chill out in Heaven, but his bride is doomed to spend eternity writhing in Hell. Lucifer makes Vlad an offer: get back at God by going back in time and spanking his golden boy Arthur. After all, God gave Arthur all that he didn't give Vlad: prosperity, loyal friends, and a happy wife. There's just one catch: in order to defeat Arthur, Tepes must become a monster, namely a vampire.
Since Dracula vs. King Arthur is set mainly in Camelot, most of the pages currently up focus on the legend of King Arthur -- the search for the Holy Grail, the tragic romance of Guinevere and Lancelot, Morgana's schemes for the throne. I just hope that the comic makes equally good use of Dracula as a character. Given that Camelot is already a fantasy setting, adding vampires isn't much of a hook. But a genuine mash-up of the stories of Arthur and Dracula, that could be interesting.
[Dracula vs. King Arthur]