Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
If you ever thought Dracula was an overdone and boring character, you’ve probably never read his adventures in Marvel Comics. Collected right in time for the Halloween season is Tomb of Dracula Vol. 3, featuring stories by the great Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont, Doug Moench, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and a whole bunch more. If those names look familiar it’s because they were some of the most important folks in comics for decades. It shows with this collection.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Step once more inside the Tomb of Dracula for more superior supernatural stories of the Seventies! First, the debut of Hannibal King – a detective with a vampiric secret! Then, Dracula is drawn into a struggle to control the powerful statue of the Chimera! Flash back to Dracula’s first meeting with Blade the Vampire Hunter – and when Quincy Harker learns that the Lord of Darkness still lives, it’s time for a savage showdown that explores their full bitter rivalry! But who else has targeted Dracula? As the saga unfolds, it draws in Rachel Van Helsing, Frank Drake…and Brother Voodoo! Plus, a New York policeman’s world is transformed by Dracula! And the Devil’s Heart, and many more terrors, await across the centuries in tales from the vampire’s past!
Why does this matter?
This book reprints Tomb of Dracula #25 to #35, Giant-Sized Dracula #3 to #4 and Dracula Lives #8 to #12.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Stories in this collection range from a simple drama of Dracula tying up loose ends when a bystander finds out about his coffin, to Dracula fighting the “Demon of Devil’s Lake” and ending up standing before a heart that’s three stories tall. Dracula is, of course, a villain, but there are times where even he is at a loss for words when monsters enter these tales. This collection in particular features some of the coolest Dracula stories and just how far Marvel creatives were willing to go to push Dracula into new narratives.
In many of these stories, Dracula isn’t the main character but a phantom of sorts who haunts characters like detective Hannibal King. This character is like the precursor to Angel, as he’s a reluctant vampire. Blade also makes an appearance–another reluctant vampire character–though he’s far from the character he is today as he’s more of a plainclothes vampire killer. There are also quite a few damsels in the story which is customary of classic Dracula tales though there are some who get the upper hand.
Most of this work is colored save for Dracula Lives!, which may look best thanks to Nora Maclin’s excellent pencils. There are some haunting images in this chunk of the book like a scene that renders ghosts like photo negatives with great effect.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
Like most comics in the ’70s, the narratives can feel bloated and long-winded. The opening is proof enough of that as Hannibal attempts to track down a recently widowed woman who lost her husband to Dracula. It lays on the horror vibes but tiptoes around the mystery rather than delivering shocks or even twists.
Is it good?
In comics there may be nothing more macabre than Dracula stories, and this book proves it. From the horror mystery storytelling to the delicious black and white pages to the monster madness in color, there is a lot to love in this complete collection. The three different Dracula series collected here make for a great read thanks to the different approaches and creators behind them, too.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!