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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  • ISSUE #28 - "Madness in the Mind!"

    The issue opens with Taj reconciling with his wife. We finally learns what his problem with her is, but not really the reason why he blames her. Their son had been turned to a vampire five years ago, and that's when Taj took off. Since then, the boy has been bound to his bed by ropes and strands of garlic, and kept alive by his mother with blood supplied by the villagers. They're getting sick of it, though, and plan to put him to his final rest in the morning and burn his bady to ashes. At this point, I'm not feeling too sympatetic toward Taj. I don't know the exact circumstances, but when Quincy Harker's daughter was turned, she was put down right away

    Meanwhile, whoever it is who is holding the Chimera, puts first David Eschol, then Shiela Whittier, then Dracula though a series of hallucinations. Dracula finally breaks through his, and his abductor orders his men to kill them.  Mae Li holds a knife to Shiela's throat, offering the woman's life in exchange for the statue, but Dracula refuses. Instead, he uses his powers to force her to kill herself. Feeling betrayed, Shiela smashes the Chimera to bits and rejects Dracula for David. 

  • ISSUE #29 - "'Vengeance is Mine!' Sayeth the Vampire!"

    Dracula is in a pissy mood after his defeat last issue, so he kills a young baby-sitter named Beverly Gable and mains a group of men who rush to her defense. Then her returns to his new home of Castle Dunwick, which he has renamed Castle Dracula. Before too long he decides to seek revenge upon Shiela Whittier and David Eschol. Meanwhile, the couple in question has decided they cannot live under the threat of Dracula, so David goes out to stake Dracula in his coffin.

    In Jajpur, Taj and his wife review the events which led to him losing his voice, her becoming crippled, and their son, Adri, being turned into a vampire. The evening in question begins very much like the night Thomas and Martha Wayne decided to walk home from the theater with their son Bruce, except instead of being accosted by Joe Chill, it was Dracula and two other vampires. When the vampires attacked, Taj's wife ran away, leaving her husband and son behind, which is why Taj has not forgiven her these past five years. She doesn't get away, though, at least not scot free. One of the vampires crashes a cart into her, which falls over crushing her legs. Immediately thereafter, however, an arrow, specifically a crossbow bolt, lodges itself in the bat's heart and turns it to dust. 

    Back at the scene of the initial attack, another vampire has feasted upon little Adri. It is taken down by another crossbow bolt, but too late to save Adri's life. Dracual himself tears at Taj's neck, damaging his throat so that he will never be able to speak again. A third bolt, fired by Rachel van Helsing of course, strikes Dracula in the shoulder, forcing him to flee. Revliving these events has brought Taj and his wife back together, so that they can face the villagers who want to put Adri to his rest together.

    Meanwhile, back in London, David Eschol has found Dracula's coffin, but he wastes fifteen minutes staring at it, giving the sun enough time to set. That's an amateur vampire hunter mistake, but not one gets to make a second time. Dracula rises from his coffin and they fight for two pages but the outcome is predetermined. Later, the doorbell rings and Shiela answers it. The first thing she sees is David's corpse. Her altercation with Dracula lasts four pages, but he wasn't actually trying to kill her, just get her back under his control. In order to thwart his desires, she took the only option she saw available to her and committed suicide by jumping out the window. 

    This was a good issue with lots of plot development.

  • ISSUE #30 - "'Memories on a Mourning's Night!"

    The issue opens with Dracula mourning for Sheila Whittier at her grave. Then he flies back to "Castle Dracula" and begins to write in his journal. The first story he tells is one of political intrigue set in 19th century Germany; the second is of a blind girl he met just "a few months back"; and the third of his first meeting with Blade in 1968.


  • ISSUE #31 - "'Ten Lords a Dying!"

    Dracula pursues a vendetta against ten members of Parliament. As the issue opens, Dracula kills Lord Arthur Singleton's daughter; he has previously killed his wife. Inspector Chelm is on the case. He notifies Quincy Harker, who already suspects Dracula is still alive, er... "undead." In a nice little touch, Quincy is examining a typewritten piece of paper detailing the deaths of the randos Dracula has killed over the couprse of the last few issues which has been statted in. At this point, the subplots are dealt with in an unusual (for the time) if not unique manner: the page splits in two, and Raj's story is told on the left hand side of the page and Drake's on the right for the next three pages. After that we get a page of Rachel. In Jajpur, Raj is unable to put Adri to his final rest himself, the villagers arrive to do it themselves. In Brazil, Frank's boss, Danny Summers, is behaving suspiciously. 

    Back to London, Arthur Singleton is working late. Dracula arrives to threaten him, but Singleton shows him an envelope containing some sort of information Dracula does not wish made public. when Singleton won't divulge his source, Dracula attempts to turn him, but then Inspector Chelm springs his trap. Quincy Harker is on the two-way, and now definitely knows that Dracula still exists. But "the abyss gazes also" and Dracula turns to mist and escapes, assuming Harker also knows whatever secret was contained in the envelope.

  • ISSUE #32 - "And Some Call Him... Madness!"

    Quincy Harker sits with his dog Saint awaiting Dracula's arrival. They both know it will be a fight to the finish for one of them. The pages split in half again for Taj's and Drake's subplots. while Taj holds off the villagers, his wife's brother slips in and kills the boy. Danny Summers sets Frank up to be attacked by a mine filled with zombies... or "zuvembies" as Marvel calls them, to skirt the code. Dracuala, we learn, is behind both of these plots. One of his operatives drained some cattle of blood and the (circumstancial) evidence pointed to Adri. And Danny summers is one of Dracula's operatives. Rachel's whereabouts are unknown and her situation is unreavealed... for now.

    Back at Harker's, Saint attacks Dracula but is knocked unconscious. Wolfman foreshadows: "One hour and fifteen minutes from now Saint will awaken--and witness the bloody carnage that was born in his sleep." Interestingly, Saint's cross-studded collar burns Dracula's hands, raising  the question who is thebeliever here, Dracula or Saint? Harker wheels himself into the gameroom, where the pool table transforms itself into a cross. Then mirrors descend from the ceiling  to "greet the vampire with an endless symphony of crosses." Next, Quincy shoots Dracula with several poisoned darts from his tricked out wheelchair. Dracula retreats, but steps into a trap in which cloves of garlic rain down on him from the ceiling. He turns to mist and returns to Quincy, whose dark glasses get knocked from his face. Apparently, having been bitten many times in the past  (but not turned) has made Quincy's eyes extremely sensitive to light. He manages, however, to set off one final trap, and Dracula finds himself impaled by by five arrows. None of them hit his heart, however, but he is mortally wounded.

    As Dracula slowly and painfully disolves, he suggests that Quincy call Rachel on the phone, which he does. Rachel is being held by two of Dracula's brides, who will slaughter her  unless Quincy saves Dracula. Rachel implores Quincy to kill Dracual, but what will Quincy do? NEXT: "Taj, Frank Drake, and the Deadly Decision!"

  • ISSUE #33 - "Blood On My Hands!"

    As Dracula slowly disintegrates before him and Quincy ponders whether or not to spare him and save Rachel, his thoughts go back to the night in 1945 when Dracula robbed him of the use of his legs. He also attacked Quincy's wife that night, and she was never again the same, even after Edith was born. Finally, when Edith was around ten years old, Elizabeth Harker took her own life. Quincy cannot live with another death on his conscience, and spares Dracula by removing the arrows. Dracula keeps his word, fo a change, and orders his minions to release Rachel, but he desecrates Edith's ashes upon taking his leave. 

    Interlude: Taj and his wife have reconciled and buried Adri.

    Dracula is despondent about the papers which detail his steady decline. Reviewing recent events, Dracula realizes his powers have been waning since issue #23 and concludes that Dr. Sun must be responsible. Meanwhile, Quincy Harker changes his will as he prepares to die. In Soho, the white-haired vampire claims another victim. Bennington, one of Dracula's thralls, steals the papers Dracula seeks, as Dracula himself moves closer into the trap set by Inspecor Chelm. But what's happening with Frank Drake?

  • ISSUE #34 - "Showdown of Blood!"

    Frank Drake is attacked by "zuvembies" and is rescued by Brother Voodoo. In England, the white-haired vampire stalks Dracula. In Jajpur, Taj's wife reveals that Rachel has kept her apprised of taj's movements these last five years. Taj begins to draft a letter of farewell to Rachel. Back in England, Inspector Chelm and Quincy Harker meets with a psychologist named Dr. Scott, who diagnoses Dracula as a manic depressive. Rachel jopins them and deduces that Dracula is simply afrain of dying, for good, as a result of the powers drained from him by Dr. Sun. 

    On Oxford Street, a fashion designer named Daphne von Wilkenson is meeting with her banker, Jackson Hardy. Her business is not doing well and the bank is about to foreclose on her business. The meeting does not go well and, as soon as Hardy leaves, Dracula comes crashing through the window. He tells her who he is, demands blood, then passes out. Examining the evedence of his power loss clutched in his hand, she decides to strike up a bargain with him. She invites Hardy back to her office and tries to seduce him. when that doesn't work, she sics Dracula on him. Now Dracula owes her a favor.

  • ISSUE #35 - "Hell Hath No Fury..."

    I'm going to take a few days off so I want to get a few more of these under my belt.

    Daphne von Wilkinson wants revenge on four men who have done her wrong. In return, she is to use her contacts in the modeling world to blackmail members of Scotland Yard into revealing the whereabouts of Dr. Sun. She sends Dracula out to kill the first of the four victims, promising to have more blood for him upon his return. Meanwhile,in Brazil, Frank Drake and Dr. Voodoo spend 3+ pages battling zombies. then they set their sights on Danny Summers. By this time, Dracula has arrived at the home of his first victim, who is shaving, watching Monthy Python on TV and arging with his wife. Dracula kills them both. By the time he returns to von Wilkinson's office, she is working with a model, Dracula's third victim of the night. 

    thay haggle a bit over terms, and she promises to give Dracual the whereabouts of Dr. Sun in three night's time, and he promises, in turn, to kill the other three men, one each night for the next three nights, but he actually has plans of his own. Dracula kills them all that same night and, when he returns to collect his "fee" three nights later, von Wilkinson discovers she has turned all of his enemies into vampires. He now knows that Dr. Sun is in Boston. this is a good issue because it's not only "done-in-one," it also advances the overall plot.

    GIANT-SIZE DRACULA #4: "Interruption" by David Kraft and Don Heck. (dnr)

    GIANT-SIZE DRACULA #5: "Interruption" by David Kraft and Virgilio Redondo. (dnr)

    • #35 was one of the few issues I bought from the stand, as it had Brother Voodoo.


  • ISSUE #36 - "Flight of Fear!"

    The cover blurb says it all: "THIS IS IT! The Lord of the Undead invades AMERICA at last!"

    The majority of this issue is a series of audio interviews on cassette tape played by Inspector Chelm for Quincy Harker, Rachel van Helsing and Dr. Scott detailing Dracula's trip to Boston. After these flashbacks, the scene switches to Brazil where Frank Drake learns that Danny Summers has been acting as Dracula's agent all along. In the final scene, we learn that Dr. Scott is working for Dr, Sun.

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