Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Best of Tomb of Dracula- bigger and more undead than ever!

Here are some of my favorite cover images from the series:

This one, in particular, is the first one I remember,

appearing in Mighty Marvel Checklist of my copy of Marvel Tales #66, 1976,
one of my first comics, bought as a surprise
at a surplus store by my parents---one of their very few gifts of comics, but all the ones in my kids year were pivotal!
Another comic they bought me there would introduce me to the Defenders, and the work of the author you'll meet at the end of this post.

I resurrected this from 2011; the title change broke the original search engine link, so I'll try restoring that, but presenting the repost here to haunt me this year.

Despite their great showdown, Harker's not on the cover of TOD #70 below. Truthfully, cool as this is for showing them in battle and Dracula using his powers, the one; (#32) where Harker's crawling away just barely out of reach of the flying Dracula is just tight, tight, TIGHT!

Finally, it looks like the eventual conclusion to the Domini storyline had some pretty cool execution, though Wolfman had to know the end of the series drew upon the horizon by this point.

In chronological order, these are the last four of my picks from the Tomb of Dracula four color series by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan, with Tom Palmer and more. (You can find the others in previously tagged blogs October 15 and September 15, 2011).

Mainly, there are two stories I want to relate:

The Boston battles of Doctor Sun and Dracula: the natural epic climax of the series, in a way, as far as that it precedes the Janus storyline, which features an added plot carrying the series through its last two years. True, Sun was added around #17 or so, himself, but everything else relies on the basic elements of the series, so while it kept going, I've read this is the true artistic climax of the suspense. After Dracula's slain this time, it can never quite have the same impact: his revenge here is his very life, given back to him by his arch rivals! His defeat of the vampire hunters and death itself could never truly be repeated. If there were no commercial considerations in keeping the serialized adventures in publication, I think Dr. Sun's defeat of Dracula would've made a cool final death, indeed, if only the good guys had found some way to defeat Dr. Sun, anyway. But Dracula, let's face it, had to be part of any such victory---it's HIS title! Nevertheless, the innocent life he takes immediately is so personally disgusting and shameful to the vampire hunters, it's a sinister resurrection, indeed, and most insidious.

Four #39 (Destruction of Dracula; which is more epic an issue?) 40? 37-42
Three #42 (Destruction of Sun)

Two #44 / Doc Strange 14 Second part is the most awesome! There's a continuity error about location, and location can be very important, as our last story below proves. Can you find the mistake? If you don't worry about it, still, very suspenseful stuff. Vampire Doctor Strange is an unexpected twist; the evil of his resurrected nature makes for a ruthless battle of wits. His tortuous spell at the end has a very unique nature. I think the way religious good and evil conflicts were thought of in these days gives us an interesting prism into which to project the entertainment then intended for mass audiences. By now, we fans of the Doctor Strange character anticipate the huge movie premiering in less than a week (it's Oct. 16, 2016 here as I update my five-year old entry.)

A one month crossover between the books, they each win a round on home turf, but the battle itself is one for the ages! Gene Colan, penciler on both series, does what he does best, the cinematic and shadowy, with both of them, as no other artist could have. Classic stuff.

One #70 final showdown with Quincy Harker I have to imagine, though I don’t own it, (65-70) I read about it in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe when I was about eleven, and decided immediately Tomb of Dracula would be a series I'd find and collect one day! In this story, Harker battles Dracula to the death, sealing the thematic structure of this incarnation of the vampire, and his series in this decade.

I wasn't worried about anything but chronological order, rather than rank, but how about I take #1 as an opportunity to suggest to you, the single Dracula comic book done-in-one that totes the quality of the series on its giant-sized shoulder.

I'm talking about...Giant-Size Dracula!

Look, this has been a fun ride through the series, but say you want a single, scary Dracula comic book story to enjoy. Look no further.

Written by David Anthony Kraft, not to be confused with busy Marvel horror writer Doug Moench, and believe me, he refuses to be,
this blood-chiller features supernatual terror within a demon-clawed mountain, where a horror mind-blowing to Dracula himself beats
with stolen blood. It's so vivid, I'm going by memory here. I'll have to treat myself to another read? I first read it in my Essentials: Tomb of Dracula, vol. 2, though it's reprinted in newer color editions.

The captions, from page one, do it right: not over-written, but appropriately purple, with incisive thoughts carried within its observations. Meanwhile, the art's free to do its story-telling. From a blood-draining aboard an ocean-bound steamer, our story goes deep within the haunted heart of the American West. A hidden source of hatred has gained visceral control of a farmer, who confesses for fear of his immortal soul to his priest.

The spine-tingling secret of the town lies in its murderous ritual, to serve the dark, awful power concealed within the stone mesa heart of the Native American reservation- inspired by the author's own life and travels in South Dakota.
Dracula's never better than when pitted against another mighty evil, so read Vlad and be glad!

Furthermore, DAK's next outing in Giant Size Dracula #5, with Death in a dirigible floating across skies of mountainous doom, is every bit as good as any single issue of Tomb of Dracula.

Originally, my picks included TOD #1, Tomb of Dracula limited series, 1993. I decided for clarity I’d just deal with the original color run, but TOD sequel 14 years later was a chilling contemporary update and reflection of all that made the series work.

Those four issues were my true gateway into the Wolfman/ Colan Dracula, as my local comic shop---I did not buy mail order comics back then, though I'd day dreamed over Mile High Comics ads for hours as a lad---lost most of its great 70's comics in a fire in 1987. (Times have changed; now my hometown has a new shop, as featured in my October integr8dfix.blogspot's "What If?")

The original series really flows without breaking up, so it’s in actuality one story: that of Harker and Dracula.

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