Honestly, I've been waiting years for a decent graphic-novel adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" -- and all the others I've read are silly, ultra-brief ones. "The Complete Dracula" is a smooth, brilliantly adapted piece of work that easily condenses Stoker's novel into a five-issue comic book... but the artwork swings between sublime and silly.
Real estate agent Jonathan Harker arrives in Transylvania, to arrange a London house sale to Count Dracula. But as the days go by, Harker witnesses increasingly horrific events, leading him to believe that Dracula is not actually human -- and he barely escapes with his life. His fiancee Mina arrives in Transylvania, and finds that he has been seriously ill. Meanwhile the count has vanished -- along with countless boxes filled with dirt.
And soon afterwards, strange things happen: a ship piloted by a dead man crashes on the shore, after a mysterious thing killed the crew. And Mina's pal Lucy dies of mysterious blood loss, only to come back as an undead seductress who is attacking children. Dracula has arrived in England -- then the center of the Western world -- and intends to make it his own. The only ones who can stand against him are, Mina, Jonathan, Quincy, Arthur, John, and the mysterious Van Helsing.
It can't be easy to adapt a collection of fictional letters, memos and diaries into an exciting graphic novel form, but Leah Moore and John Reppion actually manage it. Though they obviously have to do some editing work, they preserve the formal, horror-tinged flavor of Stoker's writing. The plot flows easily and smoothly, and it sticks faithfully to the original storyline of the "Dracula" novel, from the harrowing stay at Castle Dracula to an eerie snowbound confrontation with the bad guy himself.
The big problem is that the art is hit and miss... literally. Sometimes it feels like six or seven people were illustrating different pages and then putting them together like puzzle pieces -- Colton Worley's artwork is constantly flipping between the silly and the sublime.
The bad: the faces keep changing from page to page (Mina goes instantly from ingenue to witchy-looking, and Quincey de-ages about twenty years), and sometimes their poses are pretty silly (when Lucy and her mom are attacked by Dracula, their faces are unintentionally hilarious).
The good: Worley provides some exquisitely creepy moments with smooth, polished artwork (Mina slurping on Dracula's chest) and maintains the vampire's classic appearance (sort of hawklike with a mustache). And he paints many of the eerie moments in vibrant jewel tones: shimmering blues, pale violet-greys, bright orange-reds, and sharp violets.
The ugly: Dracula's tonguey expression in the last fight with the good guys.
"The Complete Dracula" is a brilliant adaptation of Stoker's novel, but has some pretty distracting, inconsistent artwork. It's definitely worth reading, but it's kind of distracting.