Friday, December 22, 2017

"My captain is marking his intent..." Captain Kronos #1 review

Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter was a 1974 Hammer horror film in which the titular character was a sword-wielding adventurer who hunts creatures of the night alongside his learned friend Grost and his lover Carla. This year, Titan Comics released a new Captain Kronos series under their 'Hammer Comics' banner.

I would not normally be interested in this series but I was drawn in by the creative team: Dan Abnett, a fine writer who, with his frequent collaborator Andy Lanning, was responsible for revamping Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy into a profitable new franchise (then being kicked off the book for making it too valuable for writers such as they); and artist Tom Mandrake, a frequent collaborator of John Ostrander on series such as The Spectre.

I first learned of Captain Kronos through his entry in Jeff Rovin's Encyclopedia of Adventure Heroes and it fired my imagination - a swashbuckling vampire hunter? That sounded like a great movie! The film itself, though, doesn't quite scratch the itch - it's really your typical Hammer historical horror flick, just the hero wields a sword in the climax. It's still an interesting film and could've become a successful series if Hammer hadn't been on its last legs at the time. In the intervening years we've seen via Blade and Buffy the Vampire Slayer that the vampire-fighting action hero is fertile ground.

In the first issue, Abnett & Mandrake deliver what I had originally hoped for: an all-out action adventure tale. The book opens with Kronos, Grost & Carla dispatching a band of vampires, then begins the set-up for another clash with vampires to come. This series leans harder on the action-adventure genre than the film itself.

It should be noted as well how Carla has been somewhat revamped into an active vampire hunter; she's now a two-fisted scrapper like Kronos, which is very satisfying to see. She's not as lovely as the film version (who can top Caroline Munro?!?) but Mandrake's conception of her is in keeping with the tradition of Hammer horror heroines.

This being a vampire comic book, it's interesting to me to note how much Mandrake appears to be drawing from Gene Colan's work on Tomb of Dracula (both here and in Mandrake's recent Kros: Hallowed Ground). Mandrake's wide faces with heavy shading remind me of Colan's and his vampires look like the kind Colan drew in his later years. It's a treat. Captain Kronos receives my recommendation, particularly to fans of Tomb of Dracula and other 1970s vampire fiction.

No comments: