blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Tomb of Dracula (1972) #36

Tomb of Dracula  36This issue’s a wonderful showcase for how seemingly nothing can go right for Tomb of Dracula, but thanks to the creators—even as writer Marv Wolfman crafts a silly tale, he’s still got the right artists with Gene Colan and Tom Palmer to give the issue a pulse. The cover promises Dracula’s coming to the United States. The issue delivers, with some caveats. First and foremost, the issue ends with Dracula at the airport. There are some hints at what’s next, but Wolfman’s padding.

It’s also a bad Dracula issue. He’s ostensibly losing his shit because Doctor Sun—now stationed in Boston—is sucking away the Count’s vampiric life force and whatnot, but it leads to Dracula going on a murderous rampage at London Heathrow. In the ticket line. He’s mad his flight’s delayed. Wolfman sets the whole thing up like Airport UK, then lets Dracula kill off the cast. Then he hijacks a fighter jet so Colan and Palmer can do a fighter jet comic for six pages. It’s weird and poorly concocted. Like, if Dracula’s really losing his shit, do that story. Don’t do Dracula in familiar modern settings just for filler.

Then there’s also the weird framing. Rachel, Quincy, and Inspector Chelm (who doesn’t get a single line, I don’t think) are getting a briefing from Dr. Scott. I think they’re in the UK still, but it’s also not worth the detail. Rachel and Quincy bitch about Dr. Scott taking too long to get to the point–i.e., he can’t stop expositing—and he tells them, no, he’s going to exposit as much as he damn well pleases, and now he’s going to do it twice as much. So he’s knowingly blathering.

And he’s super-sexist to Rachel. Like, so sexist Wolfman’s using it as a disparaging characteristic (as opposed to the series’s regular levels of sexism leveled at Rachel). But Dr. Scott alternates between calling Rachel “Dr. Van Helsing” and “Ms. Van Helsing,” and the latter is bolded because he goes from calling her doctor to not. Because he’s a dick. Maybe it’s all typos from Wolfman, and letterer Joe Rosen just thought it was something better.

But it’s kind of wild. And goes nowhere.

Dracula gets to the United States, come back next issue—an actual joke Rachel makes at Dr. Scott’s expense. The issue’s way too self-aware about being filler. All the characters should just remark on how gorgeous everything looks so we know the comic’s acknowledging Colan and Palmer doing transcendent work is the real draw for the comic. It could be Tomb of Cthulhu and just as revelatory.

There’s also a bit with Frank and Brother Voodoo in Brazil. Frank has tracked down his treacherous, murderous best friend, only to find the dude’s lambed it, leaving his lady friend to take the heat. So Frank starts threatening to slap her around—which the lady comments on—before Brother Voodoo gets the issue on track.

Tomb of Dracula’s a weird book. Even for the seventies. Everyone in it is a combination of dope and dickhead, with Dracula usually the least offensive. Such gorgeous art, though.

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