Characters Appearing: Anton Lupeski, Domini, Dracula, Frank Drake, Harold H. Harold, Janus (Golden Angel), Quincy Harker, Rachel Van Helsing, Saint (dog)
Tomb of Dracula #59-60
Issue(s): Tomb of Dracula #59, Tomb of Dracula #60
It's also worth noting that after a brief spurt of guest stars, we haven't seen any more since issue #53 despite the series changing its setting from the UK to the US, which could have made other character's appearances more plausible.
And after issue #60, the book goes into a bi-monthly status. This book survived the death of the horror fad and a near-cancellation and/or earlier decision to go bi-monthly. But, according to an essay by Marv Wolfman that replaces the lettercol for issue #60: "The sales for TOMB OF DRACULA had risen sharply over the past months. It seemed that new readers picked up our fiftieth issue with the Silver Surfer, liked what they saw, and have stuck with the book ever since". Now, however, Gene Colan is forced to drop something from his schedule to work on the new Howard the Duck newspaper strip (which won't actually last very long). According to the essay, Wolfman didn't want to continue the book without Colan, so they've agreed to drop the book to a bi-monthly status rather than cancel it completely (although in parallel Wolfman apparently also revamped a plot in anticipation of cancelling the series altogether). The essay also asks readers to write appeals to Colan directly:
I ask that you write to Gene, tell him what you feel about his art on TOD, and - if you wish to - how much you hope he'll be able to continue both monthly titles as well as the daily strop. Please send these directly to Gene in care of Marvel and not to the same page as your comments on this issue.
Since the series only lasts another 10 issue while the Howard the Duck strip is taken over by Val Mayerik before that, i started off not really believing that it wasn't low sales that was really pushing the book to bi-monthly status. If the book were really selling that well, Marvel would have gotten another artist. But the request to send appeals to Colan has me second guessing that.
In any event, the conclusion of the Satanist storyline. Head Satanist Anton Lupeski has allied himself with Quincy Harker's vampire hunting crew.
Working with the sleazy Satanist gives the group some doubts but, like when they resurrected Dracula to fight Dr. Sun, i don't find their hesitation compelling. One of these guys is a potentially evil normal human running a local cult; the other is the immortal Lord of the Undead.
But at least this time go through with it. The Biblical allusions are extremely heavy, with Lupeski playing the role of Judas. Quincy's group are given 30 bullets of silver and Dracula is lured to a dinner celebration set up to look like the Last Supper.
Quincy's group disrupts the dinner, and they and Lupeski pump Dracula full of silver bullets.
It doesn't do them a lot of good since apparently when Dracula turns to mist all of his hit points are restored when he returns to solid form.
During the battle, Lupeski shoots at Dracula, who turns to mist, allowing the bullet to pass through him and hit his child, Janus.
This is the problem with Gene Colan's art when it comes to choreographing action sequences. You tell me that's what's happened, and i have to believe you because i sure can't see it myself.
The death of Janus stops the fight, with Quincy almost expressing regret to Dracula before Dracula shuts him up.
Dracula kills Lupeski while the vampire hunters look on and Quincy says that Dracula is so angry there's no point in fighting him.
Domini then makes a speech to the Jesus portrait that to me, maybe because i'm looking for Biblical allusions, reminds me of Jesus' prayers to his father in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Whether that's the case or not, Domini was clearly aware of the fate of her son (and what comes next) but is rebelling against the details now that they are unfolding. Domini forbids Dracula from engaging in any more death and Quincy's vampire hunters take the opportunity to duck out. Dracula then lays on a "you don't understand me" accusation, never a good sign for a relationship.
An enraged Dracula tries to destroy the church that he's been living in with the Satanists, but he's prevented from fully doing so thanks to the portrait of Jesus.
He then has a series of flashbacks or hallucinations, starting with how he abused his first wife, and then of the daughter of that marriage, Lilith...
...and then another flashback of a time when Lilith tracked him from victim to victim, draining the victims' blood before Dracula could drink, until Dracula eventually "killed" her for a while. Dracula's hallucinations continue as he leaves the church and staggers around Boston. He mistakes the child of a potential victim for his son Janus. He then rages, demanding that the "Gods high in the heavens" kill him, but gets no answer.
Meanwhile, Domini says that she knows that Janus will rise from the dead.
This series continues to add (or pad, if you prefer) additional little horror twists to the main story. Issue #59 also has a mousy night school teacher who is nearly raped by one of her students until Dracula "saves" her and then subsequently turns her into a vampire, ordering her to return the student's "kiss" with her new fangs at her class. I suppose issue #60 could have been the final issue if the series was going to be cancelled, since it has the retrospective (maybe the vampire hunters would have successfully killed him, or maybe the Gods really would have struck Dracula down, or maybe it would have left him alive but dropped the idea of Janus' resurrection). As the issue stands, Dracula's impotent rage - when he could be hunting down Quincy's team who were partially responsible for Janus' death - feels a bit weak, and i'm similarly disappointed in the vampire hunters finding yet another excuse to not attack Dracula.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Dracula returns to Domini this issue, saying that he was "detained", with a reference to issue #57. I get the feeling he doesn't always go right home, either, so i've got a fair amount of space between #57 and this issue, and i have his brief cameo in Ms. Marvel #14 in there as well. Domini says that she'll be back "tomorrow" to raise Janus from the dead, so next issue shouldn't be placed too far from this one. The end of the Satanist storyline is welcome, but i'm not too intrigued by the overtly religious elements of Janus' story.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Tomb of Dracula vol. #3
I think the argument is that Lupeski might do something that hurts innocent people to kill Dracula, which is exactly what happens. Of course, it doesn't make the vampire hunters look competent since none of them thought to get the baby to safety but the vampire hunters being incompetent is pretty much par for the course.
Posted by: Michael | February 3, 2015 8:33 PM
Funny that this book was On the verge of cancellation at this time. In Spain, Tomb of Dracula was a huge success, there was no way that you could find a copy, every issue was An instant sold out. Even when the series ended, the Spanish editors began to reprint it from number 1.
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | February 16, 2015 7:03 PM
Tony Isabella should have read this for how to insert The Jesus into a comic without it reading like an issue of Super Friends. No I take that back... Super Friends could be entertaining, LOL!!
Posted by: Brimstone | January 7, 2016 5:26 PM
Much as I love Colan's art I agree with the point about the action sequences.
Posted by: Mizark | July 22, 2016 5:37 AM
In the "mousy night school teacher" subplot, Emily Arthurs tells her students her assignments will "hold you over the holidays". I thought at first she was referring to Christmas, but Boston College takes off from mid-December to mid-January. Instead, perhaps she is referring to Easter, when they would have been off from April 7th (Holy Thursday) to April 11th (Easter Monday)? What do you think?
Posted by: Darci | October 8, 2016 1:00 PM
Even though the results were off-panel, the sequence where Dracula kills Lupenski was pretty grisly for the time, although I surely can't blame The Count all things considered. I wonder if Anton LaVey was ever made aware of this characterization?
Posted by: Brian Coffey | May 15, 2017 11:45 PM
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