In Review: Rasputin: The Voice of the Dragon #2

Professor Trevor Bruttenholm takes matters into his own hands and encounters horrors unimagined.

The covers: Mike Huddleston’s Regular cover shows a seance gone wrong as the spirit painfully howls at its reemergence to the living world. Professor Trevor Bruttenholm can be seen on the left leaping from his seat at the arrival of this ghost. Huddleston has captured the spirit (pun intended) of this scene excellently and presents a good tease of what’s to be found within. Greg Manchess has created a wowser of a Variant cover. On a faded violet background, a gigantic Rasputin has a flaming head, below him is Ilsa Haupstein, and next to her is Karl Kroenen. Beneath this masked Nazi is Leopold Kurtz. If one is a fan of villains, this is the cover to get. Overall grades: Both A

The story: Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson’s second installment in this series opens at S.S. Headquarters in Berlin, June, 1941. Rasputin is frustrated looking at the papers before him, unable to find any secrets within them. Ilsa enters to tell him that Kurtz and Kroenen were successful in their mission and are now making for France. This pleases the madman, who tells her to make the preparations to meet them so that the next phase will begin. Being asked if the answer will be found there, Rasputin says, “The Frenchman was granted a vision of the Dragon, I am sure of it — given a glimpse of the secrets of Heaven’s Fire. I would know what it was that he saw…” The story then moves to Essex, England, where the professor and some allies are attending a seance so that they may communicate with Albert Mayhew, whose animated corpse attacked him last issue. He’s skeptical of such a proceeding, but is willing to try any avenue to come to the truth. The spirit appears (And that’s no spoiler, given the content of the Regular cover) and provides more questions than answers, leading the professor on a solo journey with surprising consequences. This issue has three very dialogue heavy pages that create the path the characters will follow. It’s necessary, but it’s fairly dense reading. However, once the story has the professor on his own, the frights begin, leaving the reader looking over their shoulder at the slightest sound. What the professor finds is impressive and an absolute horror. The final three pages of the book introduce a pair of characters that will change the professor’s path. Much of the plot is revealed and some ongoing characters revealed. Overall grade: B+

The art: Christopher Mitten’s artwork is a perfect match for this series. He captures real world horrors with modern terrors. The opening page is a good example of this, with Rasputin devouring as much as he can of the pages before him, surrounding by several computer panels. His turn to the off panel voice at the bottom of the page instantly identifies him as a hard man. Ilsa is incredibly young looking and is the perfect visual counter for the resurrected mystic. The bottom of Page 2 is a great visual showing the collision of the past and the present. The seance is a great scene in this issue, with the arrival of Mayhew on 6 outstanding. The tendrils of smoke that mark his movement are creepy. The top of 7 is a sensational supernatural image, with the third panel on the page being just as marvelous. Mitten moves his point of view around well for the next three pages, as characters state opinions and facts that are necessary to move the story forward. I found myself looking in the detailed background at the relics and books that decorate the room. The professor’s journey is a spectacular trek into the Gothic past that had me yelling at him to turn around immediately. The cloth covered furniture made my hackles rise as soon as I saw them. The fourth panel on 14 shows some extraordinary movement, which increases on 15. And how about that close-up of the professor at the bottom of that page — Wow! What is revealed is sensational and has me hoping that it will return. The visual scares of this book are excellent. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Dave Stewart’s contributions are equally well done for this book. It’s impossible for the reader not to be drawn to the blazing red banners on the first page and the crimson drawn on a map on the third page. The gray machinery that surrounds the characters on the first three pages allows their pale skin to stand out. The shading on the characters at the seance creates a menacing mood for all involved, and the orange candles increase the tension. The white sheets of the last location had me screaming at the book and they constantly had me focus on them, ready for them to move. The oranges and reds used for the climax punched up that scene tremendously, making the actions gigantic. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Clem Robins provides scene settings, dialogue, screams, sounds, and whispers. The sounds on this book, and any book for that matter that Robins works on, punch up scenes tremendously. The FWOOOSH on 7 is an excellent scene closer and I’ve never been more frighted by the letter u than as shown on 19. Excellent work. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Professor Trevor Bruttenholm takes matters into his own hands and encounters horrors unimagined. An excellent eerie story that features potential scares in every panel, leaving the reader on the edge of their seat. Recommended. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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