blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Tomb of Dracula (1972) #19


I’ve read Tomb of Dracula before, but I have an incredibly vivid memory of this issue, which has Dracula and Rachel Van Helsing stranded in the Carpathian Mountains during a days-long blizzard. Dracula’s keeping her alive as a blood bag insurance. She’s injured and too weak to try to kill him (or so he thinks). The art’s fantastic, the writing’s pretty good, and it’s a memorable, outstanding comic. I just wish I understood the nostalgia.

The issue begins with Drac and Rachel already slogging through the snow. Writer Marv Wolfman waits until the fifth page to recap what’s happened since the end of last issue, giving the duo a chance to hate banter at each other, both in the storm and then in shelter for the night. Err, day. They rest during the day because Dracula can’t be out in the sun. But he doesn’t need a coffin because he’s on his own country’s soil, which Wolfman never addresses but assumes the reader will get it. The situation drastically changes Tomb’s rules. It’s awesome.

Last issue ended with Dracula chasing Rachel in a helicopter. He’d been fighting Werewolf by Night in an underwhelming crossover—in both series—for the werewolf’s dad’s secret journal. There are anti-vampire spells in it; Rachel grabs it and makes off into the chopper and the storm. Dracula catches up, makes some bad decisions, then they crash.

They’re heading towards civilization, but Rachel knows it’s her best chance to kill him; Dracula’s keeping her on proverbial ice for a meal of last resort, meaning he’s drinking foul animal blood to avoid ruining the last meal. Dracula talks about the arrangement at length, one of Wolfman’s most successful recurring dialogue bits. There’s some awkward dialogue—Dracula’s always monologuing to himself, sometimes far less successfully than other times—but it works out. It’d be impossible for it not to work out with the gorgeous art from penciler Gene Colan, inker Tom Palmer, and colorist Glynis Wein; it’s a beautiful comic.

Wolfman checks in on a couple existing subplots—“Vampire Brand” going through his training and testing for the mysterious Doctor Sun, then Quincy Harker and Blade having an exposition dump of a conversation about how Blade’s origin reveal is going to affect things going forward. Speaking of origins, the comic—perhaps unknowingly—breaks with the historical Dracula; Tomb’s Dracula had fun winters with his parents like it was Doctor Zhivago or whatever. The real Dracula spent his childhood a hostage.

Anyway. Historical trivia.

Doesn’t matter; exceptional comic.

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