Tomb of Dracula (1972) #8

Tod8

Oh, no, Tom Palmer’s not inking Gene Colan this issue, and they got Ernie Chan to do it instead!

While I suppose Chan’s inks could be worse, it’s a profound downgrade in the art. During the human vampire hunter stuff, it’s reasonably okay—if chunky-lined. During Dracula’s vampire plot? It’s just wondering what it would’ve looked like with Palmer or someone better. Especially during the giant bat fight, which takes place over a few pages, and Chan does an abysmal job with.

The issue’s not just unsteady due to Chan, unfortunately. Writer Marv Wolfman employs an ill-advised declarative statement expository device, and it’s not good. His dialogue’s got more expository dumps, too; luckily, both devices go away by the comic’s second act, like Wolfman thought he had to keep it accessible for the potential new reader. Who wouldn’t have seen Chan’s name in the credits and put it back on the spinner.

Anyway.

While the vampire hunters try to survive a dozen hypnotized children trying to kill them, Dracula rushes off to tend his wounds. Quincy Harker shot him with a poison dart at the end of last issue, and it’s apparently toxic to vampires… which, obviously, makes no sense. How’s it going to move through the inanimate heart of a vampire?

It also doesn’t make sense when Dracula flies to a doctor’s house in a faraway village and reveals the doctor’s a vampire. Who’s got a twenty-year-old daughter, either meaning vampires can have babies the old-fashioned way, or Dracula wasn’t on ice very long before the first issue of Tomb. It wouldn’t be a big deal if they’d just establish some actual pre-series continuity instead of being so wishy-washy. They could even have vampires' hearts work if the swimmers still swim.

Dracula’s got plans, though. He’s in full Bond villain mode; turns out his vampire doctor pal has created a ray to awaken the dead and turn them into vampires. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t be zombies or how Dracula found a graveyard with so many still fleshy corpses, but it’s Chan inking Colan, so I also don’t care. I can’t imagine Chan would ink bony zombies any better.

The vampire hunters and the kids plot is less disappointing in terms of art. It doesn’t need to imply the supernatural, just the mundane gone terribly wrong, and Chan doesn’t detract. The writing, on the other hand, is a little pat. At no point do the vampire hunters consider killing the kids, which is dark, but it also should’ve been discussed. The resolution is a deus ex machina with a Bond gadget; the Dracula plot compensates, concluding with a whole lot of impressive dramatic heft.

It’s impossible not to wonder how the issue would read without the Chan inks. Still, it’s all right. The Dracula plot makes up for the vampire hunters one.

Also, they really need to deal with Renfield-wannabe Clifton Graves. He starts the issue with Dracula smacking him aside for being useless, then the vampire hunters smack him aside for being useless. It’s almost like he’s useless to the book.

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