Hammer Comics –
Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter #1 (of 4)
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Tom Mandrake
Published by Titan Comics
Released 9/27/17 / $3.99
I have loved The Avengers ever since I was a kid!
Not THOSE Avengers, silly! John Steed and Emma Peel in the UK series produced (and often written and/or directed) by Brian Clemens and Albert Fennel!
Early on, in fact, I had discovered that I was a bit of a budding Anglophile! I loved watching old Cliff Richard movies on TV, Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner, and I had even seen my first Hammer film in a theater as early as age seven! (If anyone cares, it was Dracula, Prince of Darkness, weirdly double-featured with the Adam West Batman at my neighborhood theater.)
So one would think that I would absolutely love Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter, the 1974 Hammer horror adventure film produced by the former Avengers producers and written and directed by Clemens!
But I don’t.
Not much of a fan at all, even after several tries. I’m not sure what doesn’t work about it for me. It certainly isn’t a BAD film. I just have never found it a particularly GOOD film. Even though it co-stars the goddess, Caroline Munro!
Thus, imagine my surprise when I found myself genuinely enjoying the new comic book version, a book I was predisposed to not even look at!
The setting for the comic is the same as for the film, with a legend telling us of 17th century career soldier Captain Kronos and his sworn quest to destroy all vampires in revenge for his family being destroyed by same. If this wasn’t British, it would make a classic TV western, as our hero roams the land with his trusty sidekicks, Grost and Carla—also holdovers from the movie—always searching, getting involved in new towns, against new enemies, and then riding off into the sunset.
The action begins with our heroes disposing of some vampires they’ve run across while on their way to aid a town overrun by other vampires. Kronos here is not the pretty boy model type that Horst Janson played in the film but rather a heftier, more imposing looking figure done up in the classic heroic tradition.
SO classic, in fact, that this comics version reminded me more than a bit of Robert E. Howard’s 17th century Puritan swordsman, Solomon Kane.
But that’s not a bad thing because I like Solomon Kane.
Captain Kronos is, at heart, a horror comic, but like any good horror comic, its creators realize that gore—while necessary to the genre—should be used sparingly or it loses all impact.
Those creators, by the way are Dan Abnett and Tom Mandrake. The former is a prolific UK comics writer and the latter an equally prolific American comics artist. I have to admit that while I have often enjoyed Mandrake’s work over the years, I was never a major fan. After this book, I may have to rethink that.
Intentionally or not, the artist makes the entire book resemble a particularly good Marvel horror comic from the 1970s! I don’t recall him being much of a chameleon when he was drawing all those Batman and Spectre stories I used to read but Tom’s heroes here look as though they might have been drawn by John Buscema, and his fiends delineated by Gene Colan. Yet the storytelling style itself is all modern and all Mandrake’s!
Perhaps it’s because of this look, this “classic yet new” look, but I find myself liking the characters as Abnett portrays them much more here than in the estimable Clemens’ movie. (And I’m watching the film again as I write this for comparison!)
There’s a nice photo-illustrated history of the Captain Kronos concept in the back of the comic and several alternative covers for the issue. Another nice package from Titan Books, and one, which I look forward to seeing more of soon (as well as hopefully much more from Tom Mandrake!)