blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Tomb of Dracula (1972) #35

Tod35Besides the cover art having very little to do with the issue content—the cover shows Brother Voodoo fighting zombies; more on that adventure in a bit—this issue is an exemplar Tomb of Dracula. Writer Marv Wolfman has time to go overboard with the narration and exposition while still fitting a full horror comic story into the still very serialized Tomb narrative. It might also help there’s nothing with the other vampire hunters (and Frank Drake’s appearance comes with an asterisk).

Let’s get the cover (and Frank) out of the way.

Frank is still in South America, tricked into running a plantation by one of his old rich kid friends. Little does Frank know the friend now works for Dracula. I think. It’s been a while since this subplot started, but I’m nearly sure Dracula was behind it. Immediately after Frank got to the plantation, the zombies attacked him. He’s been on the run from them for five issues or something. Time means nothing in Tomb of Dracula (especially here, when Drac’s quest involves him averting his death in two weeks).

Brother Voodoo showed up last issue to save Frank’s lily-white ass. This issue is Brother Voodoo fighting off zombies while talking to himself. It’s much better than the adventures of Frank Drake, which Wolfman seems to be acknowledging by focusing on Voodoo.

That subplot is a few pages (and still one too many); all action with great art from Gene Colan and Tom Palmer.

The main plot has Dracula agreeing to perform four hits in exchange for the report about his impending demise (the two weeks thing). His employer is fashion designer Daphne von Wilkinson. She also agrees to feed him her fashion models but assumes he won’t be feeding on her targets.

It’s a good Dracula plot, as he travels around London meeting various caricatures—beautifully rendered by Colan and Palmer—and disposing of them. There’s a good, though somewhat pointless, twist at the end, and the whole thing is—no pun—a marvel of pacing.

There are some caveats, of course. Wolfman’s script ups the misogyny whenever it can get its hands on the dial. Von Wilkinson wants these men dead for stealing from her because they thought, as a woman, she couldn’t do anything about it. They all say she’s a silly woman, so they had to steal from her. Wolfman’s pro-victims. Especially since von Wilkinson’s so happy to give her fashion models to Dracula. Patriarchy says what.

Though Wolfman having a problematic diversion does just further inform the issue as an exemplar Tomb of Dracula. Wouldn’t want to have one where he’s not writing everyone being racist to Blade or Taj, or sexist to Rachel or whatever.

Thanks to the art, it’s hard for Tomb not to be a good comic, but it’s also a successful execution of the concept. Dracula’s got his big “Doctor Sun is hiding in the United States and killing me, and all he sent me was this postcard” arc, and he’s tiptoeing into it. Drac’s on a bridge, walking between significant plot points, and Wolfman’s making things interesting around him. The story moves forward easily; the peripheral scenery is compelling and fluid.

Very good comics-making here.

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