THE CURSE OF DRACULA: Deluxe Hardcover
Dark Horse Comics
February 13, 2013
Format: FC, 96 pages; HC, 7” x 10”
This week sees the deluxe hardcover release of a 1998 Dracula story from vampire comic masters Marv Wolfman and the late Gene Colan; the classic Marvel Tomb of Dracula creative team from the 1970s.
This edition includes a new forward by Wolfman as well as sketches and reproduced pages of Colan’s pencil work, sans touchup or Dave Stewart’s colors.
Set in the late 90s, Dracula is back from the dead and a Van Helsing (Jonathan) carries on his familial tradition of seeking to stake the vampire and stop his bloodlust. It is well after dusk as the scene opens on the hills of San Francisco where we are introduced to the Van Helsing gang armed to the teeth hunting down vampires on a feeding frenzy.
Though not officially to be considered a sequel or associated at all with the Marvel Comics’ Tomb of Dracula series, it is hard to not make the connection here. With Dracula being in the public domain, and so many vampire stories spanning multiple generations dating back to the Middle Ages and sometimes back even further, the Wolfman and Colan Dracula of this book is very familiar. The immortal vampire starring in this role is more Dee Dee Ramone than the Jack Palance complete with black leather motorcycle jacket and Beatle’s haircut.
The protagonist Van Helsing has been hunting vampires since at least 1989, when his vocal chords were severed from one of the blood thirsty beasts. He is accompanied by driver Simon, a half-human/half/vampire Hiroshima (parallel to Marvel’s popular Blade character), and an ex-KGB agent Nikita Kazan. The support hunters do little to carry the story as a whole, but the crew does provide some great dialogue moments for the story and allow for greater schemes in the third act. Sebastian Seward, another descendant of Stoker’s John Seward is saved by the team.
Dracula seduces an influential Senator’s wife, while the gang investigates a coven disguised as a nightclub downtown. The carnage and horror of victims half alive from being drained are on display in the vampire den.
To reveal more would spoil this fine story, but ask yourself, what motivation does an age-old vampire have to get involved with Senator Charles Waterson’s wife? Also, how can you raid a blood-pantry for the local bat guys and gals without quite spilling some of the stuff everywhere?
There’s plenty of classic horror and scary moonlight scenes as Dracula and his henchmen transform between man and beast, and sometimes appear as a peculiar and disturbing combination of the two, Man-Bats capable of carrying a man five stories high to intimidate him.
The hunters become hunted themselves as the battle rages on in the third chapter of the book (originally a three-issue limited series). The same vampires vying for their master’s attention are willing to sacrifice all for him. Sadly for them, these cold undead children of the night are no match for the well trained Van Helsing and Seward troop. Armed with automatic wooden stake assault rifles (we’ve always wanted to say that), bullwhips and grenades our team has the upper hand.
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