blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Tomb of Dracula (1972) #21


Writer Marv Wolfman has been working on his Doctor Sun subplot since he took over Tomb of Dracula, with the arc running at least ten issues. So, it’s too bad it’s got such an underwhelming finish. It’s a Bond movie conclusion, only with the “good guys” literally inert the entire issue instead of just being dramatically inert.

The issue starts with Dracula, Frank Drake, and Rachel Van Helsing held in a stasis beam. Vampire Brand tells Dracula the origin story of Doctor Sun, presumably because it’s supposed to be interesting to someone—Doctor Sun was a Chinese scientist who lost the Party’s trust, so they took his brain out and put it in a computer. They even made his own son—Doctor Sun’s son—do the dirty work. There are a couple entirely pointless digs at “Red China” in the comic; strange how Wolfman wasn’t concerned about inequities in the West.

Though it tracks given the now dead Harker daughter was straight-up racist about Blade.

Speaking of Blade, he and Quincy Harker have another entirely pointless check-in scene to remind readers if they hang out long enough, the story might someday get back to hip, Black vampire hunter Blade or decidedly un-hip old rich white guy vampire hunter Quincy. Wolfman covering all the reader bases there.

The rest of the issue is Dracula and Brand vampire-fighting in a Bond lair while Doctor Sun monologues about his master plan: create a vampire more powerful than Dracula and transfer Dracula’s memories to this new super-vampire. But, see, Doctor Sun’s computer circuits run on human blood (Wolfman never reveals why the Red Chinese designed the hardware to be blood-dependent, though, again, Occam’s razor), and the only way he can figure out how to get a steady supply is to get a vampire to bring him victims.

Since Frank and Rachel are in stasis for most of the issue, it’s unclear if they understand they’re pawns in a living brain’s plans. They may not even hear Doctor Sun communicating; they give no indication they do, but, again, they’re in a stasis field, so who knows.

In other words, no one comments on Doctor Sun’s plan being insipid and not the work of a genius human brain-powered supercomputer. The plan’s not even good enough for a seventies comic book.

Gene Colan and Tom Palmer’s art continues to be magnificent and make the book more than worthy, but, wow, does Wolfman’s first big long arc fizzle.

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