Tomb of Dracula #69-70
Issue(s): Tomb of Dracula #69, Tomb of Dracula #70
...and taking refuge in a house with two kids whose parents aren't home. He defends the kids even when it means holding a cross to fend off the vampires.
The story in issue #70 was originally intended to be told across three issues, but it was condensed into one double-sized issue (and note the long gap between issues #69-70, Apr-Aug). The truncated nature of the plot is fairly evident (and some of the cut pages wound up included in Essential Tomb of Dracula vol. 4; see below for more).
Dracula decides to request an audience with Torgo.
The fact that Dracula can hold the crucifix may give an indication of where Wolfman was going with the "between Heaven and Hell" status from issue #68.
Janus looks on while all of this is happening, but he really doesn't factor into this issue as all.
Torgo's background is pretty cool. He's set up to be a lot like Dracula, except he was raised as a commoner, not a noble.
But after introducing a potentially powerful rival, the wrap up of the Torgo plot feels hurried.
After winning back his mantle of leadership, Dracula immediately walks away and heads back to his castle. In the meantime, Quincy Harker decides it's time to kill Dracula once and for all, and he confronts and kills Dracula in a straightforward way that seemingly could have been done at any time in the series.
The subsequent collapsing of Dracula's castle kills Quincy as well. Since it's just an explosion and the rites necessary to truly kill Dracula are not completed, it will be fairly easy to bring Dracula back, and that will happen fairly soon, in Oct 79's Tomb of Dracula Magazine #1. So despite the glorious death for Quincy, it's really a Pyrrhic victory. That said, it turns out that his heart condition had worsened and he was going to die anyway.
Frank Drake and especially Rachel Van Helsing are left out, and it bothers Rachel. She's also not at all interested in making time with Frank. But later, back at Quincy's estate, Rachel receives a posthumous letter from Quincy, telling her to not become obsessed like he was.
We'll find out in Tomb of Dracula Magazine #1 that Frank and Rachel don't stay together, but that's besides the point.
This is a good wrap up to a theme that ran through the book, about the obsession that the hunters felt and how it was destroying there lives. Between that and a little retrospective montage at the end, it is a good end to the series, at least thematically, if not plotwise.
We also see the golden demon/angel de-possess baby Janus and return to the Heavens.
That whole situation is a lot less clear to me; i'm still not really sure what it was all about.
Wolfman did a good job initially with this series, creating an interesting cast of vampire hunters to serve as Dracula's adversaries. The book really peaked in the middle, but as the series went on the obvious problem with that set-up (that the hunters could never really succeed) began to take its toll on the book. I don't know how much notice Wolfman got that the book was being canceled, but with a little more time and planning the ending could have been something involving the whole cast working together to find some clever way to finally defeat their opponent. That would have been a more satisfying ending.
Even with the problems of the ending, this was still a fairly high quality arc. Wolfman was never a great writer, but this book was always his best. Perhaps it was something about the subject matter (considering his attempts at bringing a horror theme to Spider-Woman), or perhaps working with such a great art team, that inspired him for this series. It should be said that Gene Colan lasted the entire 70 issues of the series, with Tom Palmer on the vast majority as well. A real accomplishment by itself, and the art is consistently great throughout.
This series was also a lot better than Super-Villain Team-Up at depicting an evil protagonist and never fell into the common trap of reforming the villain in order to make him more sympathetic.
Essential Tomb of Dracula vol. 4 includes twelve pages of unused Gene Colan pencils that were cut from what became issue #70. For the most part it looks like the additional pages would just have filled out the story to make it feel less truncated. There's an extension of Rachel and Frank's search for Quincy and discovery of what he did, and prior to that there's an extension of Dracula's fight with Torgo's vampires, notable for a scene where Dracula saves Quincy's group from them because they let him go at the end of issue #68. But most interesting is the return of Topaz. Topaz was last seen in Tomb of Dracula #64, and the way things were left in the actual comic it was assumed by later writers (Roger Stern, with a story continued by Peter Gillis) that Topaz remained trapped in Hell. But the unused pages show that Topaz wasn't supposed to remain trapped in Hell. The scene begins after the Golden Angel leaves Domini, and another interesting thing is that the baby Janus doesn't seem to return to Domini in this version. Then Topaz arrives. The side margin notes are cut off and illegible but at the bottom it has dialogue for Topaz: "I know what happened to Dracula - and somehow it relates to my man -- Jack Russell". Topaz then takes Domini to perform a spell which shows Domini a vision of showing Dracula fighting Torgo (or "lead vampire") and then the scene of Dracula's destroyed castle. Domini is then shown crying.
It's not possible to determine exactly what it all would have meant, but obviously Topaz was supposed to still be around. It also seems like a Werewolf By Night guest appearance (not crossover; his series was canceled by now) was coming up. And it seems like the Quincy/Dracula battle was going to happen even before the cancellation decision and it was going to conclude in Dracula's "death". But since the series would still be going i guess it would have been another fake death (which i guess it was anyway, thanks to the Tomb of Dracula Magazine). So that may explain why Dracula's "final" death in this series was a little underwhelming. And it looks like this was the end of the Janus plot regardless of the series' cancellation, so whatever i think i'm missing wouldn't have been forthcoming.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Requiem For Dracula #1
Inbound References (4): showDomini, Dracula, Frank Drake, Harold H. Harold, Janus (Golden Angel), Quincy Harker, Rachel Van Helsing
The whole Janus / Golden Angel situation could afford to be clearer, but you may learn a bit about them from this profile on Domini.
Posted by: Luis Olavo Dantas | February 27, 2011 6:10 PM
Not long after this, Marv Wolfman quit Marvel to create, write, and edit the New Teen Titans for DC. This quickly became DC's top-selling book at the time--and the fans' stated reason for this was because it most closely approximated the energy of a Marvel book(the same claim was made of the Legion of Super-Heroes as written by teenage Jim Shooter in the mid-late 1960s).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 3, 2011 11:06 PM
Before the decision was made to telescope #'s 70-72 into one issue, Tomb of Dracula was announced to continue with Michael Fleisher and an unnamed artist starting with #73. But, because this title under Wolfman was held in such high regard by fans, critics, and other comics pros(at the time, maybe even moreso than X-Men), Shooter agreed to end the book with Wolfman's last efforts to keep things at a high note(or at least that was the story back then).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 1, 2012 10:57 PM
FOOM#20 announced that, around #64, Dracula would begin a war on the USA. Wolfman wasn't able to account for the superheroes at the time.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 14, 2013 7:01 PM
More evidence that this isn't what Wolfman planned- in issue 50, Domini says "I know what will happen (to Dracula) in the end" and the Surfer looks at the picture of Jesus and says "Even I could not hope for a better, more fitting solution". It's hard to figure out how that's supposed to mean "Dracula gets blown up by Quincy Harker".
Posted by: Michael | February 3, 2015 10:22 PM
I've added some notes and scans regarding pages that were cut from issues #70-72 when it was all condensed into a single issue.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 4, 2015 8:41 AM
I still think that it would have made more sense if we would have seen all of Wolfman's original plot.Unfortunately, it's impossible to tell.
Posted by: Michael | February 4, 2015 7:57 PM
Looking at those scans more carefully, they were from issue 71. So it's entirely possible the Janus/ Between-Heaven-and-Hell resolution was saved for issue 72. Also interesting is that Topaz refers to Jack Russell as "my man" when every later writer assumed that Jack and Topaz broke up before Tomb of Dracula 62.
Posted by: Michael | February 4, 2015 11:01 PM
There's also a jump in fnord's selections; the first two unused pages are pp.3 and 4 and the last p.17, which in the period was the last page. There's space for the next issue blurb at its bottom.
I think the opening panel of p.3 represents Domini remembering Janus's transformation into the Golden Angel, not the angel's leaving.
In the dialogue note at the bottom of the page Topaz says she knows what happened to Dracula. On p.4 she starts to show Domini a vision of this. The vision starts with Dracula and Torgo tied together, so either the vision was going to begin with a brief recapitulation of their fight, or the previous issue was going to end with the pair about to fight.
I think the first panel of p.17 is the end of the vision. I can't make out most of the left margin notes, as they're cut off on the left, but I believe the one for that panel reads |BACK TO DOMINI AND TOPAZ THEY STARE AT THE RUBBLE THAT ONCE WAS DRAC'S CASTLE|.
My initial thought was that Domini is crying on the page because she thinks Dracula has been killed. But my guess is Domini's "solution" in #50 was that Dracula should be redeemed by love. This was a horror series, so Wolfman may not have planned that she should get her wish. So Domini may instead be crying because Dracula has turned back to evil and she knows he can't be redeemed.
It may be that all the unused pages survive and appeared in the Essential. I don't have it; it might be possible to figure out from their page numbers which pages were intended for #70, which #71, and which were new.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | March 15, 2015 12:06 AM
I've put these comments into a separate post as they're much more speculative.
The text by the second panel on p.17 might partly read |DOMINI LOOKS OUT THE WINDOW [...] HE COULD HAVE CAUGHT[...] NEW CONSORT|.
A lot turns on the CAUGHT. The letters I think I can see are |UGHT|. I initially thought the next line had |ASK,|, but I can interpret its letters as the |KER,| of |HARKER,|, although not with confidence. So the lines may read |HE COULD HAVE CAUGHT HARKER,|.
That could indicate that #71 was going to climax with a fight between Quincy and Dracula, Quincy was going to be killed in the castle's destruction, and Dracula was going to get away. But I'm not sure |CAUGHT HARKER| is plausible. Why would Domini be adamant that Dracula could have done that? He couldn't catch people while flying. He flew as a bat.
I think the text by the final panel was for the next issue blurb. It might read |RESOLUTN "--DESIRE [...] END.-"|.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | March 15, 2015 12:18 AM
Perhaps it's |HE COULD HAVE FOUGHT HARKER,| meaning either that he ran away or just gave in.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | March 15, 2015 2:28 AM
Appropriate that Marvel ended the series instead of handing the reins over to a new creative team. While not there from the start, this is Marv Wolfman's biggest footprint at Marvel as a writer, and he had a damn fine 5+ year run. Gene Colan WAS there from jump street, and anyone who took over for this team would be scrutinized to high heaven. Plus, these two gave readers two staples in Blade and Hannibal King. Wish they could have reunited for a co-owned, Vertigo-style series, though I realize it's tough to catch lightning in a bottle twice. Sadly, we'll never know.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | May 16, 2017 9:41 PM
I'ts hard not to hear the name Torgo and not think of the crippled man-servant from the infamous "Manos: The Hands of Fate" episode of MST3K. Same thing with the Fantastic Four character.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 8, 2017 12:17 PM
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