blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Tomb of Dracula (1972) #7


Writer Marv Wolfman arrives with a bang… or a howl. Wokka wokka.

The difference is immediate. Wolfman’s got his purply exposition, but it’s purposeful. There are lots of nice echoes between lines; the style’s right for the book, which has Dracula returning to London, going out for a snack, and surprised to discover his intended victim already knows him.

While it’ll soon make sense why his intended victim, Edith Parker, knows him, it doesn’t make as much sense why he doesn’t know her. Edith is a new major supporting player, daughter to vampire hunter Quincy Harker (son of Stoker novel “heroes” Mina and Jonathon). Wolfman’s most prominent development in his first issue is their introduction; Quincy’s the moneyed mastermind behind Rachel Van Helsing’s operation, and he calls them back to London. When Quincy gives Frank Drake a tour of his estate, showing off vampire hunting gadgets (put a pin in them) and giving Dracula’s history. Tomb of Dracula is now in Stoker’s novel continuity.

Until Dracula knows Quincy, who was born after the novel’s end. So not in Stoker continuity. Wolfman couldn’t even keep it going for an issue.

It’s a bewildering writing fumble, but then so are the gadgets. The vampire hunters do indeed go a-hunting, but they don’t bring any of the fancy gadgets. After Quincy tells Frank it’s not as simple as driving a stake through Dracula’s heart, all they do is try to drive a stake through Dracula’s heart. It’s hard to feel bad for them falling right into Dracula’s trap.

Wolfman does an excellent job with the plotting too. The twists are actual surprises, only requiring a single, easily explainable plot reveal. Though the cover says it all—Dracula’s plan involves hypnotizing children into unstoppable killing machines. The vampire hunters aren’t going to kill a bunch of kids, right?

Not all of Wolfman’s takes are great—Clifton Graves is obnoxiously simpering at this point but also utterly inept. Dracula’s so unimpressed with his performance, he comes up with the killer kids plan. But then Wolfman also doesn’t do the “Frank’s low and high-key racist or ableist to Taj” thing. Instead, Frank’s nice to Taj. What an idea.

The art’s great. Wolfman’s script and Gene Colan’s pencils tell the same story, and Tom Palmer’s inks are gorgeous. Finally, Tomb of Dracula has arrived. I knew Wolfman and Colan do one of comics’ great uninterrupted runs on the title, but I didn’t realize it would take six issues to get there. Even with the slightly grating continuity gaffes—seriously, there’s a lot of talking in the comic, Quincy could’ve mentioned Dracula waking up in the twenties for a bit–it’s a great read.

While the vampire hunters are a little too overconfident, Wolfman’s got Dracula mocking them for it and starting to show personality as a villain. Wolfman’s ability to hit the ground running is impressive.

Though he does scape-rodent rats a little much. No rat slander!

2 responses to “Tomb of Dracula (1972) #7”

  1. Vernon W

    Marvel’s seventies period has them and DC beginning their now decades old race to see which one can out produce the other for rack space. When Warren magazines were hitting the stands to sales success, Marvel started their own monster line, covering both regular comics and later the black and white magazines. While this inevitably brings a continued push to get more product and titles out, I imagine more than one Marvel had a rotating team of creators just to keep up with the deadlines. As schizophrenic as Dracula was, similar fates fell on many titles, skipping the total identity factor until it proved sales worthy for a stable creative team versus whoever had five minutes that weekend to complete an issue of something. Not great circumstances, but Dracula and Werewolf by Night survived and prospered, and both were curiously penned by Wolfman in his heyday at Marvel.

    1. So, in BACK ISSUE #6, which I purchased from the finest comic shop on the North Shore of Chicago, Comix Gallery of Wilmette, back in the day, they do a whole oral history of the series and getting the team together. Fascinating, luck-of-the-draw stuff as I recall.

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