blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Tomb of Dracula (1972) #25

Tomb of Dracula  25

Unfortunately, there’s much to talk about this issue, like writer Marv Wolfman’s use of a racial slur, which was indeed “Code approved.” It’s not clear if the speaker is supposed to be a bad guy for being a racist, which sadly tracks given Wolfman’s Werewolf by Night Black neighbor character.

The issue’s all about private investigator Hannibal King, who narrates the issue like he grew up on pulp novels. It’s the point, but it also shows how banal hard-boiled comes off when not done well or when done for a gag. Wolfman doesn’t do it well, and he does it for a gag. King’s new client is a recent widow, and it’s her wedding day. As they were getting ready to consummate, Dracula came in and killed her husband. Dracula’s motive has something to do with shipping coffins from England to somewhere else, but it’s red herring nonsense. At one point, Drac makes it sound like he killed the guy as a warning to his boss.

The widow comes to see King, who looks her over approvingly (she’s Black, so he’s not a racist if he wants to bang her). Now, he won’t exactly put the moves on her, but he’ll think about it, and he’ll be really shitty to her during their initial meeting. Especially after finding out her husband died. You have to yell at dames to make them talk sense, just ask Marv Wolfman.

Especially since the widow doesn’t believe in vampires, King tells her a bunch of stories about his encounters with vampires, including one with the guy who looks like the dude who killed Blade’s mother.

King investigates, roaming London (he’s originally from Milwaukee, which fits), getting into fights, narrating ad nauseam, and discovering how Dracula fits into this whole thing.

There’s great art. Gene Colan and Tom Palmer are made for London private eye stories. Wolfman, not so much. Worse, he’s doing that strange thing where he writes Dracula from the perspective of the humans, and Dracula’s dialogue’s all of a sudden worse. He’s Fearless Leader, not Lord of the Undead.

The end’s doubly problematic, but it’s such a gorgeous book… read the endless text fast, linger on the beautiful panels.

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