Monday, February 13, 2012

The Tomb of Dracula – vol. 1 – review

Writers: Gerry Conway, Archie Goodwin, Gardner F Fox & Marv Wolfman

Artist: Gene Colan

This volume first published: 2010

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Dracula has haunted the Marvel age of comics for years – now, see his modern misdeeds from Night one!

When the Prince of Darkness rises, longtime enemies are ready for a fight – and so is one of his own descendants! Undead armies, time travel, deathbed voodoo and more! Featuring the first appearance of multi-media marvel Blade; Vampire Hunter!

The Review: The Tomb of Dracula comics (1-70) were previously collected together in 4 masterwork volumes (which I don’t have) along with the ‘Dracula Lives!’ series (in vol. 4). However they were black and white reproductions.

This volume begins a collection in full colour and contains numbers 1-12. I was struck, despite the modern day setting (to the original 1972 publication, at least), by the Gothic feel of the illustrations and narrative – indeed there is a comment about a location in book resembling a Hammer set.

The book begins with penniless Frank Drake, his fiancée Jeanie and deceitful friend Clifton Graves going to Transylvania as Frank has inherited Dracula’s castle and intends to sell it. Graves stumbles over Dracula’s tomb and removes the stake, subsequently reviving the vampire. Things quickly progress and Jeanie is turned, Graves ends up as Dracula’s snivelling servant and Frank meets Rachel Van Helsing and her mute servant/friend Taj and falls in with a network of vampire hunters.

Rachel is the Granddaughter of the Van Helsing and another hunter they meet is Quincy Harker, daughter of Jonathon and Mina and now old, wheelchair bound but still very inventive.

The rules they use are (mostly) the Stoker rules, with exceptions such as the avoidance of sunlight owed to the movies rather than the source novel.

You will have noted, from the blurb, that this volume also marks the first appearance of Blade – though in many respects he is just a proto-character at this point. There is nothing to indicate he is a half-vampire daywalker, in his two appearances so far, just a very skilled hunter.

All in all, a marvellous step back into 1970s comic book culture. 8 out of 10.

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