Monday, 21 March 2016

Tomb Of Dracula #1 - Marvel Comics

TOMB OF DRACULA No. 1, April 1972
Whilst a pleasing enough read, with plenty of suspense and some fleeting glimpses of the Count’s formidable powers as he easily withstands Clifton Graves’ panicky bullets at point-blank range, it is hard to believe that this twenty-five page periodical formed the foundation upon which a seventy-issue long series was built. Certainly so cornily contrived a narrative as one based upon the bizarre notion that a financially deficient relative of Dracula would visit the long-abandoned vampire’s castle in the hopes of turning it into a tourist attraction makes it understandable as to why, in more recent years, “credited… sole writer” Gerry Conway has supposedly distanced himself from the publication, with both Roy Thomas and title Editor-in-Chief Stan Lee having subsequently been given dual responsibility for the plot.

Indeed even the composition of the comic’s supporting cast appears to have been manufactured simply to provide a disappointingly implausible explanation as to the reason behind someone arbitrarily removing the stake from the corpse of “a man whose name is whispered by… wary hill-people” and thus inadvertently bring the famous fictitious blood-drinker back to (un)life. Why else would Frank Drake willingly visit Transylvania with both his girlfriend Jeanie and her murderous ex-lover if it wasn’t to allow this publication’s writer to indolently have the vampire-hunter’s former friend snatch-up the sharpened piece of wood with the intention of using it to “remove a certain obstacle to a young lady’s affections”?

Sadly the handling of the titular character himself also seems to somewhat suffer on account of poor story-telling. Admittedly the Comics Code Authority’s decade-long “virtual ban on vampires” had potentially made writing for so malevolent a creature of the night somewhat arduous. But having clearly established Dracula’s immunity to firearms, fearsome faculty for mesmerism and ability to readily transform into a bat (and vice versa), why is the Lord of Vampires unable to “remain” in the presence of a human holding a “silver compact” and later suffer the blessed indignity of having his relative bounce the tiny round mirror off his head?; “Idiot! Did you really think that compact would destroy me? You’ve sealed your end, my friend --”

Fortunately Issue One of “Tomb Of Dracula” does contain some wonderfully atmospheric artwork by Gene Colan, such as the voluptuous local barmaid, duplicitous Graves and sultry-looking fanged Jeanie. However it is the Eagle Award-winner’s drawing of the Count himself, crammed full of brooding menace and nobility which genuinely makes this comic’s pencilling a genuine treat for the eyes.
Writer: Gerry Conway, Artist: Gene Colan, and Letterer: Jon Costa

No comments:

Post a Comment