More often than not Dracula stories focus on the men. Sometimes that's Van Helsing or Jonathan Harker or even the man himself, Dracula. It's something that makes sense when one considers a central theme of Bram Stoker's novel is the threat of female sexual expression. Gender roles and sexuality—specifically who is empowered by those concepts—plays a major role in the Dracula mythos. But with Dracula, Motherf**ker that toxic worldview is flipped in a rich, freshly-told story that gives the women of Dracula's world a chance to take back their power while combining the psychedelic hues of the early 1970s—both in terms of art and social color—with grindhouse horror and a dash of pulp.
And it might be the best take on Dracula to date.
The book opens in 1889 Vienna with Dracula being nailed into his coffin by his brides before the book morphs to early 1970s Los Angeles where Dracula remains trapped in his coffin until a youth-obsessed actress frees him. This, in turn, unleashes the relentless Dracula who is in this telling a twisted, bloodsucking monster utterly without charm who twists and manipulates women to doing his bidding. In his path is crime scene photographer Quincy Harker as well as Dracula's brides who are still determined to take the power back.
It's a fun, if not tricky concept but what makes it work is writer Alex de Campi's incredibly fine-tuned sense of how to unfold the turns in this story. It's a mixture of perfect pacing and knowing just when to reveal exactly which bits of information. Dracula in this retelling is an unknowable terror, the extent of his villainy only fully revealed when the Brides come into play. It's fast paced, yet offers a slow burn, which makes the reading experience an absolute delight.
The artwork here elevates the story from what could be pure pulp to something greater. Erica Henderson provides both art and colors for this comic and every page is both a fantasy of rich color and a complex tale told primarily in visuals. There's a story beneath the story in Henderson's work, one in which you could strip away de Campi's words and still feel the raw, rich energy of the tale's sinister and refreshing reversals.
The bottom line is this: Dracula, Motherf**ker is a long-overdue twist on the classic Dracula tale, one that reveals a new horror of the iconic monster story and subverts everything readers thought they knew. Dracula may be dominating pop culture again—spooky season notwithstanding—but seeing the vampire himself dominated and subverted in such a delightful fashion is easily one of the best and most timely takes on this mythos to date.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Published by Image Comics
On October 14, 2020
Written by Alex de Campi
Art by Erica Henderson
Colors by Erica Henderson
Letters by Alex de Campi
Cover by Erica Henderson