Tomb of Dracula (1972) #20

Tod20

It’s another fantastic issue. Not quite as good as last time because there was so much more human drama (and fewer hapless white dudes), but fantastic. Writer Marv Wolfman starts the issue with a hunted Dracula and ends with a captured Dracula, but by entirely different foes. The story’s called The Coming of Doctor Sun and Wolfman’s been steadily building this subplot for at least eight issues, though then he reveals some elements go back even further, with Wolfman tying in elements from before Tom Palmer was inking Gene Colan on the steady. It’s a culmination.

And it’s also a ret-con. At one point, Frank Drake makes some glib remark to “good God, she’s too good for him, it could be a sitcom” Rachel Van Helsing, and so she has to school him on her origin facts. One would think she might’ve mentioned them in the second issue or some time between then and now, but Frank’s a dipstick. It also gives the comic a chance to plug the Bram Stoker’s Dracula adaptation running in Dracula Lives. Rachel is Abraham Van Helsing’s granddaughter, after all.

Wolfman again reveals details of the post-novel era for Dracula, coming back and hunting down all the Van Helsings in revenge. Then there’s Quincy Harker saving little Rachel with his missile darts in his wheelchair. It’s a combination effective and silly sequence, punctuated with Rachel talking about how Quincy then “raised her into womanhood.”

Frank and Rachel are in a helicopter shooting at Dracula with wooden bullets as he runs through a blizzard in the Transylvanian Alps. He can’t turn into mist because the winds would blow him apart; he can’t turn into a bat because the winds would toss him around. Has he ever turned into a wolf in Tomb? Maybe not.

The chase is excellent. Beautiful art from Colan and Palmer.

The kidnappers are Doctor Sun’s thugs. They’re tracking him through the storm and set a trap for him. No explanation on how they set the trap, but Doctor Sun’s presumably a genius. We get a big reveal on him, changing him from an evil Chinese Bond villain trope into something weird and wild. Wolfman’s fairly straight-edge as far as his plotting, never wanting to give Colan anything too silly to realistically render, but Doctor Sun appears to be Wolfman coloring outside the lines.

It’s cool. And silly. And fantastic.

There’s particularly great Dracula writing, especially after one of the surprises.

The book’s on a phenomenal roll right now.

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