Stoker’s Dracula (2004) #4

The issue ends with an afterword from Dick Giordano talking about finishing the Dracula adaptation thirty years after he and writer Roy Thomas started it. He confirms my suspicions they didn’t actually have it plotted out; rather, they did that work thirty years later. Or twenty-eight or whatever. Plus, it sounds like artist Giordano did a lot of the scene breakouts—it’s a Marvel book, after all—but also, no wonder the story’s got no pacing.

I can’t remember the last quarter of Dracula, the novel, but assuming the big events in this issue are correct, there’s not much Thomas is responsible for doing poorly. The fearless vampire hunters treating Mina as damaged, sinful goods? From the book. I do wonder if Van Helsing’s journal, written in awkward, stilted, but proper English, is from the novel or if Thomas paraphrased. When Van Helsing speaks, he jumbles his word order (a non-native speaker, he’s Dutch). It’s distracting.

Also distracting is white-haired Jonathan Harker (his wife was unfaithful, regardless of being brainwashed and mind controlled, his hair was bound to change). He gets the narrator seat a bit, and even though I’m only a few months delayed, his diary doesn’t sound like his diary at the beginning of the series.

I’d also forgotten how we were headed towards a terribly anti-climatic ending, which the comic does nothing to improve. Over-reliance on the narration, workman art from Giordano, stamp, done, move on to the next. The epilogue’s bewildering and, I suppose, where Thomas is most at fault. There must’ve been something better, maybe even something relevant.

The art’s okay. This new material is about getting through, not showing off. Almost everything is a montage sequence of some kind or another (with the narration tying the panels together). It doesn’t let Giordano work up any moment with the characters.

In the end, however, it’s not Thomas or Giordano’s fault Bram Stoker left the villain out of the last fifth of the story. It’s Giordano’s fault Van Helsing looks like a mischievous but not malevolent Keebler Elf, but whatever.

And the weird “follow the money” investigation the boys conduct is boring. They found Dracula thanks to accountancy.

Yawn.

I really wish they’d gotten to finish this back in the seventies. It’s cool they got to finish it thirty years later. But cool isn’t enough to make it succeed. Thomas and Giordano are just being too rote, especially for the finish.

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