blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Giant-Size Chillers (1974) #1


I don’t think I lost anything not reading the resurrectrion of Lilith in order. I missed out on some of the gimmick: Lilith is cursed with vampirism, not a natural vampire. She and her dad, Dracula, go to a rugby game because Lilith likes watching sports and she reminds him of her origin story. She was product of a political marriage when he was human, so when his father died, he cast her and her mom out. Mom paid a Romani to look after baby Lilith and killed herself; fast forward until Drac’s a vampire, he just killed a bunch of Romanis for turning him into a vampire, so the one who’s caring for now adolescent Lilith curses her as revenge.

The curse involves Lilith being a daywalking vampire, but also possessing the body of human girls whose fathers don’t want them. So, basically, her caretaker made sure the curse reminds Lilith she’s got a shitty dad all the time.

Lilith’s resurrection is never explained though. Thirty years ago—so during World War II, apparently—Quincy Harker killed Lilith, maybe as payback for Dracula killing Mrs. Quincy Harker, but they don’t sort out the order.

Or writer Marv Wolfman did and he overwrote it so much I couldn’t get through it. Wolfman starts the comic in second person, talking to Dracula about his return to London. It’s strange because Wolfman tries to be mysterious about it, but basically Drac’s just visiting with some lackey about getting a new mansion. It’s a lot of lead up for very little, so it’s nice when the Lilith story actually has some action. Even if—and again, reading Lilith’s first appearance out of order—she’s not quite the complex anti-hero of the Steve Gerber strips. She’s just feeding on folks left and right, including her human host’s father.

Also, had I read in order, I’d have known the human host’s pregnant. I just found that out with the human host’s current beau over in Dracula Lives; quelle surprise.

Gene Colan gives Lilith’s bat form long, flowing lady locks, which I feel like I’d have remembered in Lives. It’s a look, especially since inker Frank Chiaramonte really leans into the horror. The bats are icky monsters. Dracula is garrish. Gone are Tom Palmer’s noble inks; this Dracula is human, but demonic. So Lilith’s bat having some seventies hair is something. Maybe I love it, actually.

Doesn’t matter.

Lilith coming back is basically just to spin in her off. We get a scene where she tells Dracula it’s finally time for him to admit they’re both Draculas and she should rule the Undead with him. He says no, never, you’re no kid of mine, and leaves her to be upset about it. Despite the often overwrought narration, Wolfman does a good job with Dracula being a dick this issue. It’s a special too, so it’s a flex; you’re marketing the regular book as having an asshole lead.

Especially with the actual main plot, which involves that house Dracula wants. The mansion. There’s a girl living there and the house is haunting her. Her name’s Sheila Whittier and she’s mysterious and tormented, trapped in a British haunted house movie. When it crosses over with Dracula, she thinks he might save her, but then he doesn’t because he’s a dick.

It’s amazing.

Of course, he comes back because he needs the house and there’s a resolution, but still. He dumps this helpless woman right after accidentally saving her.

The art’s objectively not as good as on the main series, but for a special, there’s a certain charm to it being brusk. Similarly, while Wolfman’s exposition is a lot—in the British horror movie context it at least makes sense—the characterizations play through. It works out. Good special.

Then Wolfman spends a couple pages addressing continuity between Tomb of Dracula, Dracula Lives!, and Giant-Size Chillers Featuring The Curse of Dracula. Basically, they knew they were all over the place but they’re trying to do better and sort through it all. Wolfman promises a timeline, but I’m not sure Lives lasted long enough for them to do one.

A couple Atlas reprints (possibly colored for this reprinting) close out the Giant-Size.

First is a Stan Lee and John Romita (Senior) joint about an Austrian village’s vampire and public corruption problems. It’s middling.

Second is about a haunted house on a graveyard. Russ Heath does the art, no writer credit. The Heath art, including fifties horror good girl art, eventually sells the story but it’s a slog to get there.

The reprints do remind of how nice they were to have over in Lives.

Chillers is more than worth its 35¢ cover price.

One response to “Giant-Size Chillers (1974) #1”

  1. Vernon W

    Marvels “Giant-Size” comics (published over a couple of years?), really were great, no matter whose title it was. Somehow, the creators upped the ante for them, easily making them some fun bronze ages Marvels to experience.

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