This issue has Tom Palmer inking Gene Colan, so there’s very little one can actually complain about. Just observe. Archie Goodwin’s the writer; he employs the second-person narration to lesser effect than the previous writers. His dialogue’s overwrought even for a seventies Marvel comic, and then his exposition suggests he had a thesaurus on hand. The text is a tedious read.
The art more than makes up for it. The way the foggy London looks with the Colan pencils, the precise Palmer inks, then whoever colored it (they went uncredited in the issue), is genuinely spectacular. It’s beyond good-looking; I knew it was just a matter of time before Colan got his Palmer inks on the series, but I’d forgotten how perfectly they sync.
The story starts with Frank Drake bereft over killing his vampire fiancée Jeanie and about to throw himself in the river. Luckily, better timed than Clarence the angel, Rachel Van Helsing, and her sidekick, Taj, show up just in time to save him. Frank’s not happy about it and says something racist about Taj, who’s mute, but then Rachel explains she’s Abraham’s great-granddaughter, he’s Dracula’s great-great-great-grandson or whatever, and they should team-up. Frank agrees. It’s all done with Goodwin’s charmless dialogue but Colan and Palmer’s gorgeous art. Art covers script.
At the same time, Frank’s duplicitous pal Clifton Graves is out getting drunk because Frank’s dumped him. Dracula needs a modern Renfield, so he hypnotizes Clifton, and the two go about getting ahold of Dracula’s coffin.
Frank’s taking his new friends to the coffin as well, and there’s a way too constrained fight between vampire hunters, vampire, and vampire lackey. I really hope Colan someday gets to do a Tomb fight scene where the actors are in a confined space; last time, it was a hotel room, this time, it’s an auxiliary storeroom. Fight settings in this comic would be better suited to a Marx Brothers bit than a battle against the undead.
Goodwin then overwrites and under-delivers Scotland Yard getting involved, leading to the vampire hunters getting de facto deputized. I wonder if someone else would’ve handled it better.
The cliffhanger has Dracula tracking down the person who bought his ruined castle, a fashion model aged out of the industry and is now using the supernatural to regain her looks. Paper-thin (even for this script), probably going to be problematic characterizations aside, the art’s wonderful.
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