The Tomb of Dracula

I have started this project three or four times in the past but have always abandoned it before completion. Today I am going to abandon my usual prolix introduction and get right to it.

#1-2. GERRY CONWAY: Gene Colan lobbied hard for Tomb of Dracula, not only to pencil it but to ink it as well. He was allowed to ink his own pencils on the first issue, but that was the only one (possibly because he could earn more money penciling two comics as opposed to panciling and inking one. Gerry Conway introduces the main cast of characters: Frank Drake (Dracula's descendant), Clifton Graves (Frank's treacherous "best friend"), Jeannie (Frank's girlfriend, Clifton's former girlfriend), and of course, Dracula. Drake inherits Dracula's castle and Clifton convinces him to turn it into a tourist attraction. Clifton frees Dracula and becomes his Renfield (or "Willie Loomis" if you prefer) almost immediately. Jeanie becomes a vampire by the end of the first issue and is laid to her final rest in issue #2.

#3-4. ARCHIE GOODWIN: The art team supreme (Gene Colan inked by Tom Palmer) appears for the first time in issue #3, but Palmer stays only for five issues initially. Goodwin introduces new supporting characters Rachel van Helsing (granddaughter of Abraham van Helsing from Stoker's novel) and Taj Nital, her mute East Indian companion. They are vampire hunters and quickly enlist Frank Drake to their cause. Drake has sold the castle to Ilsa Strangway, an aging movie star who sees vampirism as her path to youth and immortality. Dracula plays along with her, but her doesn't reveal that drinking blood will make her only as young as the day she became a vampire. Dracula gets his castle and Rachel puts Strangways to her final rest. (Rachel's weapon of choice is the crossbow, BTW.) At the end of #4, Taj tackles Dracula and they fall through an occult mirror into another dimension.

#5-6. GARDNER FOX: Gardner Fox was a learned man. He resolved the occult mirror plot as well as brought over a version of his "Shaggy Man" (first introduced in Justice League of America #45) from DC, but Fox did not adapt well to the "Marvel method" of comic book storytelling, and these are the only two issues he wrote. Also, Frank and Rachel admit that they love each other.

#7-11: MARV WOLFMAN: For one brief issue, Wolfman, Colan and Palmer were together, but issue #8-11 were inked by Ernie, Chan, Vince Colletta and Jack Abel. None of them were bad on their own (and inked Colan as well as Palmer), but the inconsistency caused the work to suffer. Marv Wolfman was still getting a handle on the characters in these issues, but he did introduce Quincy Harker, the now elderly son of Jonathan Harker and Mina Murry from the novel, and his daughter Edith to the supporting cast. Dracula mentally turns a group of children against then in #7-8;  in #9 Dracula runs ahoul of a gang of bikers and later attacks a small village; #10 introduces Blade, the Vampire Slayer and Clifton Graves loses his life; in #11 Dracula revenges himself upon the biker gang.

Concurrent with The Tomb of Dracula #8, Marvel launched the black & white magazine Dracula Lives! I debated with myself whether to title this thread "The Tomb of Dracula" or "Marvel's Dracula." I went wit the former to keep myself on track to finish all 70 issues of ToD, but I reserve the right to supplement the discussion with other Dracula-related Marvel stories. Dracula Lives! #1 features a story set in Vienna in the late 1800s, written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Rich Buckler and Pablo Marcos. Steve Gerber's Dracula was somewhat different from Marv Wolfman's in that Gerber's hated being a vampire and Wolfman's revelled in it, but a line of dialogue in #8 rectified the discrepancy. The story in Dracula Lives! #2, by Marv Wolfman and Neal Adams, tells part one of the vampire's origin, and #3 (art by John Buscema and Syd Shores) tells part two.

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    • Given the level of Weird Science in the MU, I don't think a gun that can fire wooden bullets accurately is much of a stretch.


    • You've got me there.

    • If they said it was a "special" gun, they could leave it at that.

  • ISSUE #21 - "Deathknell"

    One day when I was in elementary school, my grandmother gave me five coverless comic books. Althouh I have long since purged them from my collection and replaced them with covered copies (or originals, in the case of the reprints), I'll never forget which ones they were: Captain America #170, Marvel Double Feature #2, Vault of Evil #11, Master of Kung Fu #18 and The Tomb of Dracula #21. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I didn't ask where she got them (although I seem to recall they came from a rummage sale at her sister's church). Marv Wolfman believes that that the CCA turned something of a blind eye toward ToD because the perception was that that series had something of an older readership. I can atterst that, in my case at least, that assumption proved to be true. Whereas I devoured the others (not literally, of course), I left The Tomb of Dracula (and Master of Kung Fu as well) unread because I percieved them to be aimed at an older audience.

    ToD #21 reveals the origin of Doctor Sun, which is not unlike the origin of MODOK, except Sun becomes a disembodied brain rather than acquiring a hideaously mutated body. After their respective transformations, both characters turned on their creators and took over the organizations which spawned them. Doctor Sun needs a constant flow of blood to survive. To that end, he has become an expert in vampires, using them as agents. They get to drink enough blood to sustain themselves, and Doctor Sun gets the rest. His plan this time is to transfer Dracula's vast knowledge and experience to an agent of his own, vampire Brand. Years later, I would encounter Doctor Sun "again" for the first time in Marv Wolfman's run on Fantastic Four. I did not recognize him as the same character from ToD #21, however. How could I? I had never read it. Too bad; I think it's the kind of comic book I would have enjoyed greatly when I was ten years old.

  • ISSUE #22 - "In Death Do We Join!"

    Marv Wolfman: "Issue #22 brought Dracula to Russia. Although Dracula came from the mind of Bram Stoker in the late 1880s, I knew that every country had their own vampire myths, nurchured and changed over the centuries. I thought it would be interesting to combine Russian mythology with Stoker's more theatrical version of Dracula. I love that the format we used on The Tomb of Dracula allowed us to write different kinds of stories in very dufferent locations."

    'Nuff said. 



    I bought this one new off the spinner rack at Ahmann's Newstand in 1974... either because it was a first issue or because it was "Giant-Size" or because it featured Spider-Man... maybe even because it had a purple cover, but certainly not because it co-featured Dracula.I very much agree with Marv Wolfman that Dracula should not cross over with the mainstream MU, and felt that way even when I was ten. This is the Spider-Man/Dracula team-up previously mentioned that Waolfman turned down. What I didn't realize when I was ten was that Len Wein write it in such a way that Spider-Man and Dracula never meet face-to-face. What I did this time was to read only the Dracula pages. Perhaps sometime in the future I will read it from Spider-Man's POV and ignore Dracula.

    This Masterworks edition is rounded out by two tales from Dracula Lives!: "Look Homeward, Vampire!" by Gerry Conway and Vincente Alcazar (#4), and "A Death in the Chapel!" by Steve Gerber and Gene Colan (#6).



    Dracula is in the market for a castle in London and has set his sights on Castle Dunwick, owned by one Shiela Whittier. Miss Whittier has been tormented on a nightly basis by something in the castle for two months now. Meanwhile, Dracula's daughter, Lilith, is revived and takes posession of a young girl whose father has just murdered her husband. Lilith gets revenge on behalf of the girl, then goes out in search of some revenge of her own. She was defeated on the same night Dracula killed Quincy Harker's wife, and Lilith has not seen her own father since then. She enters Harker's house disguised as the young girl, then drains him of blood. His body, however, is discovered by Inspector Chelm, who rushes it to a hospital for a transfusion, thus saving Harker's life. 

    Meanwhile, Dracula meets Shiela Whittier and, moved by her story, takes her under his wing. Elsewhere, Lilith picks up a guy in a bar and kills him. Later, she tracks down her father and they attemd a nighttime rugby match. they review the circumstances of her birth, vampiric origin and death. They had been enemies centuries ago but, although they mended their hatred of each other 100 years ago, they haven't seen each other in all that time (except for the night /harker's wife was killed). Lilith proposes an alliance, but Dracula rejects it. I should mention that, although Lilith is a vampire and can change into a bat, she can also exist in daylight due to her unique origin. 

    Back at Castle Dunwick, Dracula discovers who has really been tormenting Shiela whittier: Lord Henry, is own real estate agent! Lord Henry had somehow resisted dracula's control, and the last thing he does is cheat Dracula of another victim by taking his own life. Shiela Whittier becomes Dracula's new assistant, replacing Clifton Graves, but much more loyal. Two specific plot points from G-S Chillers are mentioned in ToD #22, but we must assume those two comics occur more or less simultaneously, if not exactly linearly. ToD #23 will pick up immediately after the end of G-S Chillers #1. I can see why MMW did this, not only for that reason but also because this volume ends with five b&w Lilith solo stories from Vampire Tales #6, Dracula Lives! #10-11, and Marvel Preview #12 and 16, written by Steve Gerber & Marv Wolfman, and drawn by Bob Brown, Tom Sutton, George Perez and Gene Colan. 

    • Of course it was a crooked real-estate agent! Just ask Scooby Doo.


  • ISSUE #23 - "Shadow Over Haunted Castle!" (cover), or "Shadows in the Night!" (splash)

    Picking up seconds after the end of Giant-Size Chillers #1, Lord Henry falls dead to the sound of eerie laughter. Dracula's real estate agent may have been tormenting Shiela Whittier, but he wasn't the only one; there is a more supernatural tormenter as well. Alestar Dunwick, Shiela Whittier's uncle, left Castle Dunwick to her even though he had never seen her before. She and her boyfriend took a trip to inspect the property, but he was pushed down a stone staircase by some supernatural force and died. His death was ruled accidental, and Shiela has been living there ever since. At this point, Dracula must leave the castle to feed.

    Elsewhere, Taj Nital has returned to his native Jajpur, India. His wife has been calling his name since he left.

    Meanwhile, Sheila is confronted by the ghost of her uncle, who reveals he's actually her father. (It's a whole thing.) His original body, or "corpse" I should say, has been transformed into gold by his unearthly master. Dracula returns to the castle in time to destroy the effigy before Sheila's father/uncle can kill her. A moody little "done-in-one" (sort of), drawn to perfection by Gene Colan.

    Jajpur (also known as Jajapur) is a town and a municipality in Jajpur district in the Indian state of Odisha. It was the capital of the Kesari dynas…
    • This is one of the darkest stories yet with implications of torture, human sacrifice and devil worship. These themes wouldn't have made it in a mainstream super hero book. I think Marv Wolfman may have been right about the CCA turning a blind eye to this series. 

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