Tomb of Dracula (1972) #9

Tod9

This issue starts with one of Tomb of Dracula’s most potent scares—Vince Colletta will be inking Gene Colan this issue. Beware all who enter. That said, it’s not as bad as I thought it’d be. Yes, Colletta ruins a bunch of panels, and he can’t do the shadows, but—at the very least—the art does have some kind of weird personality. The story’s also got a lot of personality, like writer Marv Wolfman going overboard with Dracula’s church-related panic attack but then doing a sublime tall tale recounting.

The action picks up—presumably—soon after last issue’s conclusion, which had Drac flying off into the night after he’d failed to resurrect an undead vampire zombie army. He starts this issue in the ocean, a group of young folks rescuing him and taking his wet, unconscious form to the only place in their village open at such an hour… the local church. Tomb of Dracula vampire logic allows vampires on holy ground, apparently, because it’s not until Dracula wakes up and sees the crosses all around him does he flip out. There’s a particularly poorly inked sequence where he tries to escape, eventually having to wait for the priest to open the front door.

Outside, instead of attacking the priest and the concerned locals, Dracula makes up a bullshit story to explain his condition, including lying to protect his pride. It’s reasonably subtle—especially for a Marvel comic—and very cool. He won’t accept help from the priest, but he will crash with one of the locals until he regains his strength.

Of course, he’s only got six hours until sunrise to regain his strength and get away to some good old Transylvania soil. So he goes to get something to eat, failing to realize turning one person in a confined village will soon lead to enough vampires everyone’s going to notice them feeding. Also, the priest sees some vampire activity and decides to get a lynching party together—the priest’s desperate to get his flock involved in church activities again, in whatever form.

Meanwhile, Dracula makes a new friend in his rescuer, a young man named Dave, who doesn’t want to spend his life in a crappy English fishing village. It would feel like a done-in-one if it weren’t for the flashback tie-in to the last issue or the brief aside with the vampire hunters (immediately recovered from the little kids trying to kill them earlier in the evening).

It’s a nice issue, despite the overwriting, despite the Colletta. Wolfman keeps making Dracula more interesting a character; for instance, in this issue, he’s in the protagonist slot. Not even the abysmal inks of Vince Colletta can mortally wound Tomb of Dracula!

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