It’s another exquisite issue, thanks to Gene Colan’s pencils. He’s got Vince Colletta inking, but it doesn’t detract. Colan’s so good he even makes the last issue recap page work well, as protagonist Frank Drake (anglicized from Dracula) remembers how he got into his current predicament. This issue follows Drake from Transylvania back to England; in between, he manages to sell off the now destroyed castle and its lands and rescue ostensible best friend Clifton. Dracula threw Clifton into a pit for later snacking last issue, and, surprisingly, he survives to return this issue.
Frank’s plan involves stealing Dracula’s coffin and taking it from Transylvania, while the Count is more concerned with improving his appearance. Luckily, the village doctor used to be a boy in the vampire’s employ and can now do some kind of—off-page—skin therapy to make the Count appear human. However, they still color him shock white, so only Dracula’s fellow comic book characters can see the difference, not the reader. In expository dialogue with the doctor, writer Gerry Conway reveals a little more of Tomb’s timeline; Dracula was “killed” when the doctor was a boy, so within living memory. The doctor’s old now but still capable. Doesn’t seem like Tomb’s going off Bram Stoker’s Dracula continuity or timeline (which the first issue implied but didn’t make definite).
Dracula doesn’t stay in Transylvania either; he follows Frank and Clifton to London, bringing along new vampire Jeanie. Jeanie’s Frank’s fiancée turned vampire (last issue at the very end) who used to date Clifton; Clifton lies to Frank about his role in releasing Dracula. He also fails to reveal he was planning on screwing Frank out of the castle and reclaiming Jeanie. While Frank’s not taken with her new vampiric form, Clifton’s not so picky, and Jeanie’s sure she’ll be able to turn him against Frank.t
Meanwhile, Dracula’s off sampling the seventies London nightlife, including the ladies. There’s a weird throwaway moment where Dracula remembers last issue’s barmaid who he killed and complained was too slutty; here, he remembers and then chastises himself for romanticizing a loose woman. It was a bad detail last issue, so it coming back is strange; maybe it’s just a Marvel Style problem; Colan thought one thing, Conway thought another.
Eventually, the vampires team up against their amateur hunters, and there’s a big fight scene with some excellent Colan art. He does horror, he does “reality” settings, he does fight scenes in mundane hotel rooms; he’s, no punning, a marvel.
Conway does the same overwriting as last time on some of Frank’s scenes; it’s wordy, second-person narration. Luckily, once Frank rescues Clifton, Conway doesn’t use the device (at least not noticeably) the rest of the issue; there’s just too much going on without Frank.
The last issue felt like a done-in-one, and this issue resolves some of its outstanding strands; Tomb of Dracula isn’t quite set up yet, but it’s definitely getting there. And Colan makes reading that set up a rare delight.