|TOMB OF DRACULA No. 7, March 1973|
Despite comprising of a confusingly busy narrative, which not only contains an astonishingly high number of notable characters such as Edith Harker, Rachel van Helsing, Frank Drake, Taj and the cravenly Clifton Graves, but also a seemingly endless series of contrived happenstances which swiftly bring the entire party of protagonists into direct contact with the Transylvanian nobleman on the wintry streets of London, “Night Of The Death Stalkers” also provides its readers with the thoroughly compelling beginnings of a titanic “ongoing saga plotting its title’s vampire count against a group of vampire hunters” under the penmanship of two-time Eagle Award-winner Marv Wolfman. Indeed “eleven months, six issues and three writers after the launch” of “The Tomb Of Dracula” there is finally a palpable sense of long-term direction with this issue’s storyline as the Brooklyn-born writer introduces the comic book’s readership to the fanged fiend’s elderly wheelchair-bound nemesis, Quincy Harker and establishes that the invalid has “dedicated” the past sixty years of his life to finding people ‘who shared his hatred for the Undead.’
Having provided such a formidably inventive, albeit partially paralysed, foil for the scheming ‘supervillain’, the creator of Blade also supplies the cloaked aristocrat with something of a makeover within this twenty-page periodical by reinforcing, partially through a citation from “The Chronicles of Abraham Van Helsing… 1888”, that Dracula has both the power to “direct the elements: the rain, the thunder, the snow” and the ability to hypnotize groups of humans with a “deathly stare” into “zombie-like attackers”. Both of these supernatural aptitudes are crucial to this magazine’s central plot as the hungry patrician first buries England’s capital city under a “bitter hoarfrost” and then callously traps his numerous foes with a horde of “drugged” children who “are compelled to destroy” Harker and “will not stop until they are successful.”; “You cannot stop them, because to stop them, you must kill them! And you, Mister Drake… You could never bring yourself to murder a child. Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Somewhat disappointingly however, Gene Colan’s artwork for this fascinating confrontation between Dracula and his “old friend” Quincy, is slightly inconsistent, especially when it comes to the classic horror illustrator’s depiction of the Lord of Vampires himself. Admittedly the vast majority of panels containing Graves’ ungrateful “Master” adhere to the Bronx-born penciller’s innovative and inspired vision of him looking like actor Jack Palance. But dishearteningly, whether as a result of Tom Palmer’s errant inking or not, the “loathsome” monster occasionally appears to resemble little more than a shoddily-drawn red-eyed devil with a disturbingly bouffant widow’s peak.
|Writer: Marv Wolfman, Artist: Gene Colan, and Inker: Tom Palmer|