Well here's a turn-up for the books and no mistake - the apocalyptic events of last issue were a feint, a dream sparked in Dracula by the demon Plokta as a favour to Pete Wisdom. My first reaction was 'jolly cheap, wot?' but writer Paul Cornell quickly won me over. OK, so Faiza and Pete aren't dead but that means Faiza and Pete aren't dead. In a vampire-filled storyline they are, in the nicest possible sense, undead.
And while the 'it was all a dream'
conceit should have me flinging the book at the bloody annoying moth behind me, it was so unexpected that it actually wound up being rather clever. It fit MI13's previously established MO to make a deal with one enemy to gain an advantage over another, and there was a believable operational reason for the move - to gain as much information as possible about Dracula's crew and plans by seeding his fantasies and observing what grew. Plus, I liked seeing Ditkoesque floating head guy Plokta again - his cordiality is most engaging - and the reaction of Black Knight and Faiza to Drac's dreams hints that these two will have a future together beyond this book.
While the tactics were fascinating, as ever it was the characters who made this book sing, with the standouts this time being Spitfire, new member Killpower and Faiza's dad, Mr Hussain (really, this brave, dignified chap should join the team).
I've no idea why we seem unable to get a full issue of Leonard Kirk's pencils these days, but I enjoyed what we had, and co-penciller Ardian (I am not a typo) Syaf acquitted himself well too. Knitting things together ably were inkers Jay Leisten and Craig Yeung, and colourist Brian Reber.
Mico Suayan and Morry Hollowell illustrate and colour a standout cover that's bound to go on any trade collection of Vampire State.
One more issue of this wonderful, smart comic. It's just not cricket.