Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Tomb Of Dracula #18 - Marvel Comics

TOMB OF DRACULA No. 18, March 1974
Whilst Marv Wolfman’s narrative for “Enter: Werewolf By Night” undoubtedly makes good upon its promise of celebrating “two of Marvel’s most macabre super-stars-- in a battle of monsters!” The Brooklyn-born writer’s confrontation is rather disappointingly an emphatically one-sided affair as the Prince of Vampires easily subdues his lycanthrope opponent on two entirely separate occasions. Indeed Dracula actually appears to have more of a problem overcoming Jacob “Jack” Russell’s mysteriously mesmerising female companion Topaz, than he does outfighting the antiheroic werewolf, even turning “hesitantly before the power of this girl” and taking flight into “the indigo skies.”

However any readers dissatisfied over so lack-lustre a response to this meeting of two iconic horror comic book characters, should still have found plenty to enjoy within the Shazam Award-winner’s storyline, especially as it provides plenty of cryptic clues as to why Russell’s father had apparently been secretly “observing” Castle Dracula from a clandestine vantage point within Russoff Manor. This particular periodical also contains some additional backstory to Bram Stoker’s creation as well. Something which is especially useful for those unfamiliar with the vampire’s history as depicted in the American black and white horror magazine “Dracula Lives!”; a thirteen issue series published by “Marvel Comics Group” in the early Seventies.  

In fact Wolfman seems to positively delight in teasing his audience with cryptic clues as to future tragedies yet to come and even goes so far as to include a brief fleeting glimpse of a hapless Blade about to be staked by a chair bound Quincy Harker beneath the streets of Paris, only to then narrate “but we shall not see its impact…” Yet whilst the vampire killer’s fate at the hands of the elderly invalid is clearly to be revealed in “the next issue” dishearteningly readers would have to go and purchase Issue Fifteen of “Werewolf By Night” in order to “learn the origin of the werewolf” as well as discover “the conclusion of the most sense-shattering battle of them all.” For as Dracula kneels over a semi-conscious Russell saying “But for now, Dracula thirsts and he thirsts [for] the blood of the werewolf!” the comic dramatically ends.

Equally as frustrating is the artwork of Eugene Jules “Gene” Colan, whose pencilling appears worryingly inconsistent throughout this issue despite being inked by Tom Palmer. The two-time Eagle Award-winner seems to initially really struggle drawing Jack Russell and it is only when the New Yorker portrays the cursed youth battling the drunken ne’er-do-well Scratcher that his readily recognised charismatic style comes to the fore.
Writer: Marv Wolfman, Artist: Gene Colan, and Inker: Tom Palmer

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