blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Dracula Lives (1973) #3


There aren’t any pages of the Dracula movie stills with new dialogue. There are still some movie stills with accompanying text, but it’s not for laughs. It’s a welcome change to Dracula Lives, though the pages instead seem to be going to somewhat middling text material.

But first, the comics.

Writer Marv Wolfman contributes another part of Dracula’s Marvel origin. After becoming a vampire, killing his captors, and dropping his infant son off with some gypsies because a vampire can’t be a daddy, a flock of vampire bats descend on Dracula and again take him captive. He’s off to see Nimrod, Lord of the Vampires, only Dracula’s not going to bow to anyone, so he and Nimrod schedule a duel. Only then Nimrod’s lady tries to seduce Dracula, who isn’t into vampire ladies. Too cold.

John Buscema pencils, Syd Shores inks. It’s probably the best art in the issue, with only one real competitor, but it’s somewhat uneven. Close-ups are great, medium and long shots are iffy on the faces. And then the final battle eventually runs out of steam and ends abruptly. Good writing from Wolfman, though, and lots of the art’s solid.

The second story is one of the two fifties reprints in this issue. Larry Woromay does the art on the story, which recounts the tale of a man born disfigured who wants to become a vampire to make people pay for mistreating him. Only he can’t stand the thought of drinking blood. The end has a “twist,” but the story’s primarily successful for Woromy’s art. Lots of personality to it.

Then comes the first text piece—Doug Moench writing about Bela Lugosi and the 1931 Dracula movie. It’s a thoughtful piece examining how the film’s aged. Probably a little long, but Moench’s got good observations.

The following story is Dracula versus Solomon Kane, so Marvel did a multi-license crossover decades before the competition. Only not exactly because Dracula was never copyrighted in the United States, and the British one had run its course already.

Solomon Kane’s trying to find a missing girl in Transylvania. First, he’s fighting bandits, then wolves, with Dracula showing up to save him at the last minute. Dracula doesn’t know anything about the girl, but wouldn’t Solomon like to spend the night at the castle.

Roy Thomas writes, Alan Weiss pencils, and the “Crusty Bunkers” ink. They must sit at the same table with Many Hands. Supposedly Dick Giordano and Neal Adams did some of the inking. The art’s good but occasionally sparse. There’s great action, though, because obviously, Dracula didn’t offer Kane a place to crash not wanting to suck his blood.

It’s a Solomon Kane story guest-starring Dracula; it’s okay.

Next up is Chris Claremont’s text piece from the perspective of Van Helsing, set to pictures from the Hammer movies of Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. I get they needed to fill the pages, and the story’s better than the movie still rewrites, but it’s still a quick gimmick dragged out over six pages.

The second reprint has Chuck Winter art and is a reasonably straightforward Macbeth adaptation until the last panel. Winter’s art is emotive but rushed, and the big reveal at the end isn’t an improvement on Shakespeare. Shocker. The adaptation also severely reduces Lady Macbeth’s part.

The final story is from Gerry Conway and Alfonso Font. It continues last issue’s New Orleans adventure for Drac, this time getting him all the way to Paris. A mystery woman is out to kill him, there’s a gargoyle flying around the city, lots going on.

Font’s art is design-oriented and fairly good, except Dracula looks a little silly. He’s very formally dressed and finely coiffed, but in a very distinct, very not Dracula Lives style. Font does a fantastic job with the Paris setting, just not the count. It might feature the best “bat” action, though it might also just be Paris.

The Conway story is okay. But, unfortunately, it’s a little too busy for the story we end up getting.

Dracula Lives doesn’t have any home run art outings this issue, which really hurts it. It’s a string of “not bad,” though at least the Wolfman one has some emotional weight. Then the text pieces seem like filler even when they’re okay.

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