Black Mass Rising is a very nice book, a gothic horror set one year after the supposed death of Count Dracula. In Transylvania, a new demonic entity begins to terrorize a remote town, causing death in its wake, but a mysterious healer and Mina Murray arrive to prevent the rising darkness, Satan’s triumph, and Dracula’s supposed return. They must travel with a village girl to confront evil and find out if Dracula has truly returned, encountering horrors and challenges along the way.
The story of Black Mass Rising can be considered “Dracula fan fiction” since it is a revisionist sequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula that rewrites history to portray Dracula and Mina’s relationship as tragic romance instead of gruesome coercion of a young woman by a predatory and demonic elderly man. This Dracula is a sensitive and misunderstood young goth. It was hard to see what the purpose of this story was other than to tell a pessimistic horror apocalypse following this revised doomed romance. Warning, Dracula was never high art. It was a Gothic pot that captured the anxieties of its time: England’s fear of foreign invasion and the repressed Victorian fear of unleashed female sexuality. It’s always the male fear of female sexuality in fiction and horror movies.
The horror of Black Mass Rising is predictable and doesn’t really make sense. The plot about a team of heroes going on a journey to confront a great evil is completely mundane – it’s every fantasy plot that goes all the way back to the Lord of the Rings. It also feels slow and laborious and way too long. Too much of the story is wasted on characters telling each other their feelings of agony, usually in close-up, over and over. Dracula’s identity is so blatantly telegraphed that by the time it’s climax revealed over 100 pages later, it’s downright underwhelming and boring. This is a problem with many comics these days, where characters spend too many pages and panels telling each other their sad feelings, and even more pages and pages repeating those feelings over and over. It’s strange that editors don’t tell writers that once is more than enough. Theo Prasidis’ the story would have been much better if it had been half as long and more concise. Black Mass Rising’s only saving grace is the artwork. Jodie Muir a painterly art that gives the book a European feel, with the early parts of the book resembling a folk tale before turning into gothic horror and then apocalyptic doom by the climax. She deserves a long career as a graphic novel illustrator because her work makes Black Mass Rising one of the most elegant books in the TKO Studio catalog.
Black Mass Rising would have been better if it was shorter and more condensed. Instead, it wears down its welcome by being too slow, too long, and only appealing to readers who fantasize about romance with Count Dracula.
Black Mass Rising is published by TKO Studios.
Black Mass Rising
Review by Adi Tantimedh
An overly long and labored fan sequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula that would only appeal to fans who think Count Dracula was a tragic and misunderstood gothic hero, but with some very nice artwork by a talented artist.