Tomb of Dracula (1972) #11

Tod11

Jack Abel’s inking Gene Colan again, but the issue pulls through all the same. The art’s better than last issue, particularly on Dracula. The writing’s better too, but actually good, as opposed to just not the worst Abel can screw up Colan. There are some particularly great pencils Abel trashes this issue too. With better inking, this issue’d be a contender for best Tomb of Dracula so far. Even with the goofy Haiti voodoo subplot.

It’s been two weeks since the last issue, and Dracula’s still not used to Clifton Graves being dead. Dracula left him on an exploding yacht because Graves was so useless. Drac briefly ruminates on the departed leech, who’s been pointless since issue two, and it’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one who wanted Graves gone. Dracula, Prince of Darkness, agreed.

Dracula then goes to sleep, resting up to hunt down the biker gang who tried to drown him a couple issues ago. Now, Tomb of Dracula’s editorial notes are saying I need to read Dracula Lives! to understand Dracula’s Marvel history—which I think I’m going to do so I can better bitch about continuity issues.

This biker gang’s working for a dying rich guy who wants them to go kill his enemies before the final curtain. He’s got voodoo dolls of all his targets, so he can torture them from afar before the bikers end their miseries. It’d probably play better if there weren’t a “kidnapped in Haiti by savage voodoo natives” flashback. But that section’s quickly forgotten, as Dracula hunts the gang and they hunt their targets. Drac finally catches up when they’re on to the last victim, a mutual acquaintance (who apparently invited Dracula in at some point because he’s got no trouble entering the house uninvited).

Writer Marv Wolfman’s playing with Dracula character in more ways than just vampire rules or character history; Wolfman’s making Dracula more sympathetic and more personable. When it’s time to feed, Dracula doesn’t hunt the helpless young woman; he pursues the human guy also hunting the young woman. And when Dracula’s soapboxing, he doesn’t sound like a wannabe megalomaniac but rather a slighted aristocrat with anger issues.

It works.

It works enough to get through the disappointing art.

Wolfman hints at future plotlines for the vampire hunters, who mostly take this issue off. Frank and Rachel are on a weekend date, and they’re going to see a Dracula play; the narration promises we’ll hear about it later, presumably next issue. Or in Dracula Lives!. But this issue’s about Dracula and the bikers and their respective prey.

The ending’s particularly good. Wolfman reveals at the last moment the issue’s a lot more tightly constructed than it initially appears.

I really hope another inker comes on soon, though. I miss being excited for the art.

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