Tomb of Dracula (1972) #4

Tod4

I was so ready to cut Archie Goodwin some slack on this issue’s script. Not just at the beginning, but even halfway through when the dialogue’s at least terse, so not overly wordy. Only then Goodwin starts leaning in on the second-person narration, not for human protagonist Frank Drake. No, Goodwin does the second-person narration for Dracula, and, wow, is it bad. It goes from bad to worse, with Goodwin taking it up a notch (or down) like more bad will work better than less.

Dracula’s not in the lead-up to the cliffhanger; instead, it’s Rachel Van Helsing talking to his latest regretful victim, and—even though there’s way too much misogyny—the missing narration device helps. Plus, it’s setting up what ends up being a reasonably good cliffhanger. And Gene Colan and Tom Palmer’s art is phenomenal; their talking heads scenes are superb, with lots of personality to the characters’ faces, but also to how they deliver the dialogue. But, of course, since it’s Marvel Style, the kudos go to Goodwin for the dialogue.

The issue begins with Dracula and the lady who bought his old castle, Ilsa. She used to be a fashion model, but now she’s old. She purchased the castle hoping Dracula would come looking for her and she’d be able to convince him to turn her into a vampire so she can be young again. Like it says in the Bram Stoker book. This issue breaks a little with the established series continuity. Or the implied series continuity; now it’s a direct sequel to the novel before there was some loosey-goosey with the timeline.

Dracula agrees—she’s going to give him a magic mirror in return, even though he doesn’t want it for the reason she thinks (it’s a time-traveling mirror, and she assumes he wants back to the nineteenth century, which he doesn’t). Unfortunately, Drake, Rachel, and Taj are all in pursuit; Dracula beat up Ilsa’s butler, and he called the cops, who called Scotland Yard, who called the vampire hunters. They’ve got special, super-modern (for 1972) vampire hunting technology, which surprises Dracula and suggests Goodwin got plot inspiration from “Batman: The TV Show” merchandise.

Thanks to Colan and Palmer, the gadgets do visualize well; art over silly.

There’s some more of Drake being shitty to Taj—is he just ableist this issue or racist, too, can’t remember. But it’s quick, and the vampire hunting action sticks more to Rachel. Or the cops who are helping them out. So less opportunity for Frank to be a dick.

The issue’s an improvement over the previous; the plot’s better, the guest star more interesting, and so on. However, that second-person narration from Goodwin is an unmitigated disaster, and I’m dreading any more of it.

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