If I remembered this issue closely resembles an early Swamp Thing comic in the Wein and Wrightson era, I’d forgotten. Except Swamp Thing #4 went on sale over three months after this issue of Tomb, so that Swamp Thing resembles this issue, not the other way around.
No spoilers, but it involves the guest monster and the English moors it occupies. Though here in Tomb, “monster” gets quotes. It’s just some guy with horrific medical things going on.
Gardner Fox contributes this issue’s script, and it’s much better than last time. It’s not good, but it’s much better. And there’s never any wonkiness to Gene Colan and Tom Palmer’s art—they’re cooking with gas from page one—making the entire experience relatively smooth. Fox is also more comfortable writing the comic; characters aren’t expounding half their dialogue. The dialogue’s not great, but it’s got some unintentional moments. For example, I’m hoping Fox intended Dracula to come off a wee sexist when describing vampire hunter Rachel Van Helsing and wasn’t just being verbose. And then it’s the best anyone has written erstwhile protagonist Frank Drake. He keeps his mouth shut instead of blabbering.
Well, he blabbers a little—everyone does in the book; Fox hates panels without word balloons or something. But nowhere near before.
Okay, so, the story.
Dracula and Lenore, who he luckily happened upon in the past, come back to the future, only not in the mansion where Dracula started his time travel adventure. Instead, they’re somewhere on the moors; this twist basically breaks the black mirror rules but whatever. They’re back, they’re hungry, and they need to find a place to sleep.
Someone ought to do a montage of Colan panels where Dracula’s ambushing some village girl walking home through the countryside. This issue’s got the third (at least) such scene in the series.
The vampire hunters go back to the castle from their mirror and find Scotland Yard waiting with a hot assignment. Suspected vampire victim on the moors, where there’s also a bog monster, but no one thinks it’s the bog monster.
At first, it seemed like the issue had a rocky plot in the second half until I realized Tomb of Dracula is a chase scene as ongoing comic. They can only catch Dracula once; he can escape them every twenty pages. Entirely changes how the third act sits.
Albeit still with Fox overwriting the dialogue, but it’s more suited for the (out of nowhere) soapy romance he finds in a literal pit. And the art’s superb this issue. Might be the series best, just in terms of quality and effect. Colan and Palmer are on it.