Tomb of Dracula #30
Issue(s): Tomb of Dracula #30
The framing sequence has Dracula mourning at the grave of Shiela Whittier and then going to write in his journal. BWAHAHAA! The Lord of the Undead keeps a diary. Uh, sorry, master. Don't kill me.
The first story has Dracula entering into an alliance with a Lyza Strang, a German noble in the period prior to World War I.
She wants Dracula to kill her husband, who is competing with Otto von Bismark to become the minister president of Germany. Dracula agrees because her husband intends to invade Romania if he gains power, and that could be a problem for Dracula's castle in Transylvania. Dracula agrees, but finds himself attacked by Lyza's guards after he kills the husband. Lyza subsequently tries to get Bismark to leave his wife for her, but he banishes her when he finds out that she arranged for her husband to be killed. Dracula subsequently finds her and turns her into a vampire that was subsequently killed by Abraham von Helsing (so i guess she's one of the wives from Bram Stoker's novel?). And ironically in World War I, Germany winds up invading Romania anyway (although as far as i know Dracula's castle was unaffected).
The most interesting - and gross! - thing about this issue is the fact that Dracula apparently smells like rotting flesh and normally has to command women to ignore it.
I don't really like that idea. Romance has always been a big part of the allure of the vampire genre. The idea that vampires are gross smelly things kind of ruins that. Yes, they are undead, but the supernatural powers that animate them should also keep them from smelling rotten.
The second story takes place "a few months back" and has Dracula encountering a blind girl in the suburbs, and becoming as dumbly infatuated with her as the Universal Frankenstein Monster.
But instead of killing her like the Frankenstein monster did, he instead kills her father after her father kills her mother in a fight about how much money they should be spending on care for their blind child. And the funny part is how Dracula just assumes that the child will be pleased about how Dracula has avenged her mother's death by killing her father.
The third flashback is the most interesting in that it shows Dracula's first encounter with Blade, in China in 1968.
Blade comes to him pretending to be part of a group of humans that want an alliance with vampires, knowing that vampires will eventually take over the world.
Dracula, who refers to Blade as "a savage" and "the black", warily agrees and follows Blade back to the rest of the group.
But they turn out to really be vampire hunters.
They actually manage to "kill" Dracula, but Dracula's current set of wife-slaves save him before the group can perform all the steps necessary to permanently destroy a vampire.
Dracula has subsequently managed to hunt down and kill three members of the group, but of course Blade still survives (and so does one other, the one named Musenda, who we'll see in a future issue).
These stories are all fine and the Blade origin is nice to have, but the issue definitely feels like an unnecessary slow down during a period where Wolfman was building up some cool stuff.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Tomb of Dracula vol. 2
The stories weren't meant to be fill-ins--we would see other issues with Dracula's Diary in the future. I'm guessing they were deliberate breathing spaces in between epics.
It may not be romantic, but vampires smelling like corpses(and other aspects of dead people) is necessary to Dracula's (far in the)future epiphany about what kind of empire he actually rules.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 30, 2015 5:19 PM
But Mark, the problem is that people who have encountered vampires before don't seem to be able to recognize them by smell. Just five issues before this, a woman whose husband was killed by a vampire doesn't realize Hannibal King is a vampire.
Posted by: Michael | January 30, 2015 7:48 PM
It's possible vampires don't have a pronounced odor detectable from usual distance people have from each other, but something that one would detect only if they are in prolonged intimate contact.
Not mentioned, but plausible, is that the odor becomes stronger the less blood Dracula has in his system (or if it's been along time since he last drank).
Posted by: Chris | January 30, 2015 9:02 PM
I agree that the vampire-corpse odor thing wasn't used on any consistent basis, but the whole 'corpse" aspect of vampirism does become more important near the end of the book.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 31, 2015 10:47 AM
I don't really recall vampires being widely regarded as particularly romantic or sexy until the Anne Rice vampire novels became popular, starting with Interview With the Vampire. Published 1976, but her stuff probably didn't reach the height of it's popularity until late '80s/early '90s.
I still find the newer and more romantic approach to vampires to be somewhat jarringly disturbing. Prior to the '70s, at least, vampires were more generally and traditionally regarded as unclean, undead monsters, not romantic soap opera leads, as they sometimes are nowadays.
My perceptions of such things are naturally limited by the limits of my own pop culture experiences. Another early exception I can think of is "Love at Bite," a 1979 romantic dramacom about Dracula starring Susan Saint James and George Hamilton. In my limited world I saw this movie long before I ever heard of the Vampire Lestat. Many people learn of things first through movies. "Interview With the Vampire" didn't get a film version until 1994. I first learned of Anne Rice's weird vampire worlds through The Vampire Lestat #1 (1990). This comic enjoyed huge sales in our area.
So, Dracula stinks like the animated corpse that he is, and needs to use his creepy hypnotic "charms" to keep us from noticing? Seems perfectly logical to me.
Posted by: Holt | February 12, 2018 2:37 AM
@Holt- The 1979 version of "Dracula", starring Frank Langella as the Count, did feature a much more romanticized vampire than previously seen.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | February 12, 2018 3:41 AM
@ Holt - Aside from what Brian Coffey said, that film version was preceded by the 1977 Broadway production, also starring Langella. And really, the vampire as "romantic lead" kind of starts with Christopher Lee's portrayals of Dracula dating all the way back to 1958. Even in the original 1931 film and the stage productions before that, the hypnotic seduction of the victims suggest romanticism far more than disgust.
Posted by: Erik Beck | February 12, 2018 5:53 AM
There was a BBC television adaptation of Dracula from 1977 with Louis Jourdan as the Count that really amped up the sexuality.
Posted by: The Small Lebowski | February 12, 2018 4:43 PM
I'm sure I missed seeing the Langella film at the time, although I did go to the theater for "Love at First Bite" because my wife and I both loved Susan Saint James from her performances on "McMillan & Wife." My experience as I said before is really pretty limited. I was busier then, and there was a lot of drek to filter through that year (like any year, really). Lately it's been fun for me to try to play catch up with all the comics and other entertaining stuff that I missed during the '70s, so I'll probably try to catch up with Langella's film on DVD now too, and thanks for pointing it out.
Wikipedia tells me "Love at First Bite" grossed $44 million vs. $20 million for Langella's "Dracula."
I agree that there's always been a romantic side to Dracula, but I just think it's grown to be a much more predominant element than before. For instance, I don't think many of my contemporaries fantasized about actually being vampires, but that might not be quite so true of all the fans of Vampire Lestat or Twilight. I can't remember anyone before Anne Rice who made being a vampire seem quite so glamorous or desirable.
Posted by: Holt | February 12, 2018 5:08 PM
Andy Warhol's "Blood for Dracula" came out in 1974. Drac definitely wasn't so sexy in this one. It was so gory that none of our local theaters would show it. We had to drive to a nearby university's film department to see it.
Posted by: Holt | February 12, 2018 5:16 PM
Wiki also tells me that BBC's "Count Dracula" starring Louis Jourdan was released in the USA by PBS as part of their "Great Performances" series. Now I'm going to have to try to watch that too.:) Thanks Lebowski.
Posted by: Holt | February 12, 2018 5:25 PM
It is good, Holt. I remember seeing it in parts at the time but it was also condensed into a two-part drama. It's been called the adaptation which is most faithful to Bram Stoker's book.
Posted by: The Small Lebowski | February 12, 2018 5:48 PM
The 1970 Spanish "Count Dracula" with Christopher Lee was also hyped up as the most faithful Stoker adaptation ever, but there was that unavoidable Spanish horror movie cheese factor...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 12, 2018 8:10 PM
I think the first explicitly romantic and sexy vampire in movies/TV may have been Barnabas Collins from the soap opera Dark Shadows, which ran in the States from 1966 to 1971. I've never seen the original series, just the 1990s revival version, but according to Wikipedia:
The character, originally played by Canadian actor Jonathan Frid, was introduced in an attempt to resurrect the show's flagging ratings, and was originally to have only a brief 13-week run. He was retained due to his popularity and the program's quick spike in ratings, and became virtually the star of the show.
A defining feature of Barnabas' character development is his gradual but persistent transformation from a frightening creature of the night into the show's protagonist, who selflessly, heroically and repeatedly risks his life to save the Collins family from catastrophe.
Barnabas Collins ' great love was his fiancée from 1795, Josette du Pres, but throughout the show he had interest in many different women, including Maggie Evans, Victoria Winters and Roxanne Drew. He wanted these women to share his vampire existence, and wanted Maggie and Victoria to assume the identity of Josette. His closest ally and friend was Dr. Julia who was quietly in love with him and supported his attempts to find happiness. While aware that Julia did have strong feelings for him, Barnabas' complex feelings for Julia evolved from initial fear and distrust to deep affection, devotion and protection.
Posted by: Tuomas | February 14, 2018 6:51 AM
That depiction sounds a lot more like the "romantic vampire" later popularised by Rice than earlier versions of Dracula etc. Though of course is Eric Beck is right that this process had already begun by 1931, when they depicted Bela Lugosi as a suave and good-looking Drac. Even though Nosferatu from 1922 was an unofficial adaptation of Dracula, its protagonist being an ugly, rat-like creature is much closer to Stoker's original depiction (and to the traditional European vampire folklore) than Lugosi in the official movie.
Posted by: Tuomas | February 14, 2018 6:58 AM
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