THE SCHOOL OF THE DAMNED #2
After the violent and intense opening, the omnipresent threat of Nazi incursion on the School of the Damned remains in place after it’s revealed that the soldiers encountered were part of a larger operation under the orders of a high-ranking officer. However, despite the imminent danger the pace of the story slows a little, and instead of another blast of horror intensity we are instead granted some expansion of the comic’s core ensemble of characters.
Orlock was introduced as a creature of fierce intelligence and controlled aggression, but now he is also seen to be a man of lingering grief in an early cemetery scene. A sorrowful exchange with the ghost of his wife Isabelle lets us feel the depth of their love over a mere half a dozen panels, fading speech bubbles signifying the ethereal whisper of her voice as her words gradually fade away on the midnight breeze.
We also get to know some of the school’s students, younger characters original to the series and not directly lifted from any classic horror film, and who were briefly shown during Orlock’s call to arms in the first issue. Most significant is Frankenstein’s patchwork undead daughter Jennifer (also referred to externally with the utterly adorable name of FrankenJenny) who has an endearing naiveté of human nature (enquiring “Why do people kiss?” after reading Wuthering Heights), but also a resilience belied by her sweet exterior. There is also an undisguised degree of animosity between teen wolf Connor and Orlock’s arrogant vampire protégé Jean, an ongoing personal feud likely to have recurring significance.
Other positions are still a little uncertain, such as that of the demon boy Moloch, and it seems that others have their own secret agendas relating not just to life within the school, and it’s clear that threats exist for some characters far closer to home than the encroachment of the Third Reich, with personal vendettas potentially proving just as dangerous as megalomaniacal regimes.
If that wasn’t enough, the issue ends on a splash page that ties back to the prologue, retroactively identifying its mysterious vampire-hunting priest and heralding his imminent gatecrashing of the plot.
INFO: THE SCHOOL OF THE DAMNED #2 / AUTHOR: JOHN FARMAN / ARTIST: JASON MATHIS / PUBLISHER: VITAL PUBLISHING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW