Dracula Everlasting is a new OEL manga by writing team DeFilippis and Weir, known for their prior series Amazing Agent Luna. In commentary the authors have expressed the desire to tell the story of the biggest bad boy vampire himself, Dracula, as a counterpoint to the now popular bishie boys from teen chic lit like Twilight and Vampire Knight. Using elements from Braham Stoker’s original manuscript, DeFilippis and Weir have integrated Dracula into a modern high school setting, inviting readers to experience the emotional conflicts of such a powerful possession.
The Gist: (from publisher) Nicholas Harker is an average teen who has just lost his parents in a tragic accident. But when he learns he is the sole heir to a vast estate from a mysterious ancestor he never knew he had, his life will never be average again. Together with his new friend, Jill Hawthorne, who has relocated from London, Nicholas discovers that he is a direct descendant of Lord Dracula, and what’s worse, Dracula’s spirit is beginning to exert control over him.
Under the spell of Dracula, Nicholas’ first order of business is to rebuild Castle Dracula stone by stone in the outskirts of Boston. There are those from Dracula’s past who will stop at nothing to destroy Nicholas, and those who come to his aid and urge him to embrace his destiny. Only one loves him; the rest want to use him–in a dark war where Nicholas’ very soul is the battleground.
The Characters/Romance: Main protagonist Nicholas is written as an unassuming individual with low self-esteem and few friends. His possession by Dracula becomes a tempting asset when he realizes that Dracula’s confidence can improve his less than stellar social life. Although, posession comes with a price – Nick’s memories of events are gone whenever Dracula takes over. When a series of unsolved murders start accumulating amongst the local community, Nick’s panic sends him to Jill, whose briefest touch seems to revive Nick’s own consciousness.
Jill’s involvement with Nick takes a romantic turn from the start, yet her presence is ever a threat to Dracula.While Dracula’s servants work on separating Nick and Jill, Nick’s possession is almost complete. Investigating alongside Jill is Cate, a wiccan practitioner of magic. While Jill comes across as easily swayed by events, Cate is the stronger, more determined heroine of this story. When both girls suffer the same fate, they team up for revenge against Dracula. Yet the girls will most likely clash when it comes to the fate of Nicholas himself.
This story takes place in three volumes, two of which have been released. The short length of the story keeps the characters from being well developed. While Nick/Dracula, Cate, and Jill are the ones the story revolves around, they are all fairly flat and lack any depth of personality. The romantic relationships are cliché. Dracula’s development is the best thread through the story. Though the vampiric scenes are few, their violent execution provides a glimpse of Dracula’s powerful and scary nature. The historical connections to the present setting also add to the flavor of the tale.
The Art: Rhea Silvan was chosen as the artist on this project. While the characters are somewhat lacking, Silvan takes what she’s got and works some magic on the pages. Her visualizations bring Dracula and his minions to life in the modern setting of Boston. The character designs are fantastic, and the artwork stays with a very realistic feel throughout the series. Action sequences flow smoothly and the paneling varies from scene to scene to pace the story just right. Violent scenes have the right touch of blood to be horrific but not gory. The colored pieces have well balanced schemes and layouts, and make the characters pop to vibrant life.
The Audience: Seven Seas rates Dracula Everlasting as Teen. A great rating due to some of the violent attacks and murders by Dracula himself. Romance rating for this series is cuddly, since Nick and Jill share a kiss or two. Fans of shoujo manga like Vampire Knight or young adult Twilight won’t get any hot vampire seduction out of Dracula, so this isn’t a bishie romance. But if you like Buffy or Van Helsing, this may be more your style.
The Media: Dracula Everlasting volumes 1 and 2 are available from Seven Seas publishing. Volume 3 is set to be released on September 2013. That’s going to be a while for the final conclusion. Volume one can be read online at Zoom Comics.
Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥
While the characters are cookie cutter stereotypes, the artwork’s visual telling makes the story easier to ingest. Vampire fans will enjoy it, just don’t expect Dracula to be sparkly!