I love how writer Marv Wolfman makes sure Dracula’s racist towards Blade to in-virtue signal, except van Helsing and his daughter were racist towards Blade too. And hero Frank Drake is constantly racist towards Taj. It’s an unfortunate trivia note to an otherwise solid fill-in issue. Or at least, the Tomb of Dracula version of a fill-in. It’s the same team; it’s just nothing to do with the main story.
Instead, it’s a series of flashbacks as Dracula works on his diaries. He’s just buried Shiela and is standing over her grave, working through some mental gymnastics to escape any blame for the situation. He told her he was Count Dracula, Lord of the Undead, didn’t he? Maybe if she’d listened to him, she wouldn’t be dead now.
Joking aside, it’s… character development. Wolfman’s in a pickle with character development on Dracula because any character development will make him sympathetic at this point, and Wolfman wants to keep him a villain. Hell, Dracula wants to stay a villain—he’s rambling about people expecting something different from him.
He’s got three different journal entries for the evening, with Blade showing in the final one; it’s a recounting of their first encounter.
The first flashback is about a Prussian politician’s wife convincing Dracula to kill her husband. While Dracula’s narration complains about her being a bother, he still agrees to do the deed. Only he’s in for a surprise once he gets there. I think Wolfman must’ve been reading some World War I history based on the cameos.
Great art on it from Gene Colan and Tom Palmer makes up for a lot. The story peaks early when Dracula’s thinking about how the wife is pretending his rotten flesh doesn’t stink when he usually has to hypnotize the ladies into not smelling it.
Major detail. Should’ve been in issue five or something. It’s issue thirty.
The next flashback is about Dracula getting involved in a family squabble where the dad doesn’t want to pay for his daughter to go to blind school anymore because he’s a selfish prick. Meanwhile, the daughter asks Dracula to play dolls with her. Great art, somewhat oddly paced story, decent finish. However, Dracula’s inability to understand complex grief and panic ring false.
The Blade story’s the last one. It takes place in 1968, so pretty soon before Tomb starts (the series, at least its start time, is rather well-established for a comic). Dracula’s holding court in China, and Blade wants to talk to him. Cue some racism.
It’s the action story, the one where they can put Blade on the cover to promise an appearance while really delivering a glorified cameo. Despite being their first meeting, Blade doesn’t need to be Blade for the story to work. It’d be better if it weren’t him. And not just because it’d (presumably) cut out racist Dracula.
Still, excellent art, of course, because Colan and Palmer aren’t going to deliver anything else.
The issue starts much better than it finishes, and, despite whatever he’s doing with the racism bit, Wolfman’s tentative character development for the Count is something new in the book and something good.