Bizarre Adventures #33
Issue(s): Bizarre Adventures #33
In the Zombie story, we're reminded that Simon Garth wears an amulet of Damballah, and whoever holds the other half of the amulet can control him. But it seems that Damballah himself is controlling Garth at the moment.
Garth is drawn to New York, where this is happening:
Later, the wife performs a ritual to summon a zombie, and it turns out the whole thing is a ruse to give the man a heart attack. I guess six months was too long to wait.
The wife kills off her partner, too.
However, the use of the amulet attracts the real Zombie. He kills the wife, and takes the amulet for himself, thinking it might give him the ability to let himself die. But it doesn't work.
I suppose this could have opened up stories where the Zombie was, if not able to die, at least in control of his own actions. But this is the last we'll see of him until 1993. Still, it's a fun if silly and typical monster revenge story, where implausibly bad people are punished by the monster.
As for the Dracula story (by Steven Perry/Stephen Bissette/John Totleben), it asks the question of whether or not he had a precursor.
It's a question that's immediately answered in the affirmative.
It's 1459, before Dracula has become a vampire, and while he's fighting the Turkish army led by Turoc. Dracula's troops are questioning his sanity, and he's dreaming of a creature called Var-nae.
In part, this story recaps information we already know from Dracula's origin in Dracula Lives #2. As in that story, a Romani woman named Lianda makes Vlad the Impaler into a vampire. But what's new is that at the same time, we see Varnae attacking a priest.
And we see that Lianda was working for Varnae.
Varnae then props up Nimrod as the "Lord" of the vampire rabble that he leads. Nimrod was presented as a legitimate lord of the vampires in the story from Dracula Lives #3.
Meanwhile, Dracula becomes a vampire and slays Turoc, too late to save his wife Maria. He leaves his son (?) with the Romanis.
He then is approached by a minion of Nimrod, leading to Dracula displacing him as lord of the vampires. And Dracula is also shown confronting the vampire/priest from Dracula Lives #4, who is also part of Varnae's plan.
Varnae is pleased that Dracula spared the priest's niece, because it means that he retains some of his humanity, which is according to Varnae's plan. When the niece is threatened, Dracula returns and confronts Varnae.
And Varnae says that Dracula is to be his replacement.
Dracula resists this, and they struggle, but Varnae overcomes Dracula and puts him to sleep in his coffin. Varnae then walks into the sunlight and dies.
In and of itself, i wouldn't really know what to make of this, and i really wish if writers are going to do a retrospective story spanning various old issues that they would use footnotes and explain better the implications of the scenes being referenced and what's changing. But Roy Thomas will make good use of Varnae while bringing back vampires in his 1990s Dr. Strange run, and it's good to see deeper into the line of Marvel vampires than just Nimrod. Seeing that Varnae has history going all the way back to Atlantis is interesting.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: As Michael notes in the comments, Tales of the Zombie #9 ended with the Zombie seemingly settling his affairs and going to eternal sleep. And when he's used in Daredevil annual #9, no mention is made of this story; it seems like the last thing that happened to Garth was his going to sleep in TOTZ #9. But that's from the perspective of some specific characters, and they may just not know about this incident. As noted above, Garth feels like Damballah himself has sent him on this mission, so maybe Damballah woke him up to punish the characters in this story for their use of the amulet. So i'm placing this at publication date, assuming that Garth left his grave for this story and then returned to it in time for the Daredevil annual. I don't feel too bad about this knowing that Marvel intended to bring the Zombie back soon after TOTZ #9 anyway (per the preview ads in that issue).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
When is this Zombie story supposed to take place? The Zombie's existence seemingly ended in Tales of the Zombie 9, and Daredevil Annual 9 makes it seem like the Zombie's been at rest since then. OTOH, there doesn't seem to be a gap in the Zombie's series for the amulet to take a trip to New York.
Posted by: Michael | August 2, 2016 8:50 PM
I've added some notes in the Considerations. Thanks Michael.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 3, 2016 8:36 AM
"Varnae" is a reference to "Varney the Vampire", a story by Thomas Preskett Press that was serialized in Victorian-era penny dreadfuls.
Acheron and "Valusa"(misspelled) are references to Conan and Kull.
The page where Varnae overcomes Dracula seemed confusingly laid out to me back then; it appeared that Varnae actually ripped Dracula's head off.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 3, 2016 11:12 AM
Here's something that's been bugging me since reading about Varnae on the Original Marvel Universe timeline:
So, Varnae, who looks to be an absolutely inhuman monster and not the mostly-human-looking creature Dracula and most vampires are, has been around at least since the days of Atlantis as lord of the vampires and everything is hunky-dory, until one day he up and decides to quit because he's bored, so he arranges for this dude to be vampirized (he wasn't even already a vampire) and named his successor, even after he tries to fight it, before killing himself. And over the course of just over 500 years, Dracula is repeatedly defeated and even killed, including seeing the Darkhold's vampire-eradication spell be cast.
If I were a long-lived-enough vampire, at this point I'd be thinking that vampirekind was a lot better off under Varnae and I'd be wanting to time-travel back to the 1400s to drag him out of his funk so they don't have to be led by this ordinary, somewhat-more-powerful vampire who keeps losing.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | August 11, 2016 8:47 PM
It never made sense that Varnae wasn't around.
Beautifully rendered by the horror team supreme of Bissette and Totleben.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | August 14, 2016 1:14 PM
In the panel first showing Nimrod on his throne, behind him there is a cartoonish character holding a beer can. That's actually S. Clay Wilson's Checkered Demon from Zap Comix and other undergrounds.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 14, 2017 8:29 PM
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