Saturday, 19 September 2015

Tomb Of Dracula #8 - Marvel Comics

TOMB OF DRACULA No. 8, May 1973
Whilst Marv Wolfman’s second script for “Tomb Of Dracula” is undeniably a thrilling action-packed read, crammed full of the Count’s frightful machinations for world domination, as well as more of the living dead than even Rachel van Helsing can shake a sharpened stake at, “The Hell-Crawlers” also disappointingly relies upon its readers to take an awful lot of the Shazam Award-winner’s plot devices at face value. For not only does the Brooklyn-born writer conjure up an unnamed “quick-acting poison” which swiftly threatens to slice through Dracula’s “vital organs” and forever contaminate him. But he also creates the character of a physician vampire who has both somehow managed to sire a human daughter and create “an instrument of the damned” imaginatively called “The Projector!”

Indeed it is rather hard to imagine a less convincing narrative in a Bronze Age comic book, especially when Doctor Heinrich Mortte’s invention looks exactly like a genuine household "opto-mechanical device for displaying film" and yet is apparently somehow capable of “raising from the grave an army of living vampires” all under the Count’s control. Certainly Bram Stoker’s villainous fiend has never looked more ludicrous than when he raises the film projector aloft above his head and excitedly exclaims “Now I have the power to create an army of undefeatable vampires… Ha! Ha! Ha”. Little wonder that the aristocrat’s bearded subject “rue[s] the day I first conceived this horror...”

Equally as hard to accept within this twenty-page periodical is Wolfman’s unbelievably idiotic portrayal of Dracula and the Transylvanian nobleman’s foolish treatment of the ‘teacher of medicine’. The creator of Blade quickly establishes, through the blood-drinker’s physical abuse of the “insufferable” Clifton Graves, that his version of the Lord of Vampires is highly intolerant of his servants. But having pushed Mortte to his moral threshold's breaking point by contemptuously belittling the scientist whilst he takes the Projector from him, the sneering 'immortal' then incomprehensibly tells Heinrich that the doctor’s “daughter must be our first victim… to show the world we vampires hold no quarter for anyone!” It is therefore little wonder that upon hearing this the elderly consultant steals back the instrument he “should have destroyed… years ago” and shatters it upon “the ice-capped ground” in his death-throes.

Fortunately Issue Eight of “Tomb Of Dracula” still proves to be an entertaining experience as a result of Gene Colan’s exemplary pencilling and Ernie [Chua] Chan’s inks. In fact the artistic duo really seem to have been at their best whilst producing this comic strip, especially towards the book’s end as Dracula and Mortte lock fangs in the guise of giant flying bats, and Quincy escapes certain death at the tiny hands of a horde of hypnotised youths.
Writer: Marv Wolfman, Artist: Gene Colan, and Inker: Ernie Chan

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