Sunday, 14 June 2015

Tomb Of Dracula #15 - Marvel Comics

TOMB OF DRACULA No. 15, December 1973
Though arguably best known for his ‘lengthy run’ as the writer on this title, it is highly unlikely that the script to Issue Fifteen of “Tomb Of Dracula” will ever be seen as one of Marv Wolfman’s greatest contributions to the Bronze Age of Comics. For rather than containing an immersive engaging narrative, the nineteen page horror magazine is disappointingly little more than a disconnected collection of unimaginative short stories involving the Lord of Vampires and therefore proves to be a very messy substandard read.

Much of this displeasure comes from the expectations created by Gill Kane’s wonderfully impactive cover illustration of a rifle-carrying bearded hunter first shooting down a somewhat surprised vampire bat in mid-flight, and then standing over the Count’s ‘dead’ body in astonishment. Such an exciting well-drawn composition creates all sorts of questions in any purchaser’s mind as to why a mortal would so foolishly commit such an act upon the supervillain and equally promises some blood-curdling reprisals once the gunman’s prey has recovered from his wound. After all “How long will a vampire stay dead?”

Unfortunately the entire matter is very brusquely and bewilderingly resolved within the space of just three short pages as Wolfman reveals that Dracula actually allowed himself to be ‘shot at’ in order to “see what sort of man would dare raise a weapon to me”. Such a sudden resolution to so potentially thrilling an adventure is then followed by three similarly brief tales; all of which are supposedly taken from the Transylvanian’s very own “personal ledger.”

Admittedly there is some logic to the two-time Eagle Award-winner’s creation of such a bizarre anthology book, as clearly none of the unrelated ideas included within “Fear Is The Name Of The Game!” would themselves be substantial enough to ‘fill an entire issue’ on their own. But such a potpourri of plots, including a murdered wife seeking a fitting revenge upon her homicidal husband, an immortal Roman luring Dracula to a lake of blood and an elderly Scotsman ‘killing’ the Count in his own castle, smacks of the scripter still “floundering on the series”.

Possibly just as uninspired by this comic’s storyline was penciler Gene Colan, as the American artist’s drawings becomes increasingly unimpressive and erratic the further into the book one looks. Indeed so inconsistent is the Bronx-born illustrator’s sketchings, one moment superbly depicting the hapless hunter Vinnie being chased by rats and then impotently showing a wronged woman savaging her ‘killer’ in the next, that it could be argued it is plainly obvious which parts of Wolfman’s writing Colan enthusiastically felt worked and which he clearly felt did not.
Scripter: Marv Wolfman, Penciler: Gene Colan, and Inker: Tom Palmer

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