Dracula Lives #2 (1944)
Issue(s): Dracula Lives #2 (1944 and origin stories only)
It goes for them about as well as you'd expect, although there is something of a twist.
Since this is only the second issue of Dracula Lives, Dracula's past had not yet been filled out (or, i'd argue, littered) with appearances throughout the ages. So one might have assumed that Dracula was "dead" in his coffin between the events of Bram Stoker's novel and Tomb of Dracula #1. And indeed that's the impression that the Nazis are under.
So it's supposed to be a mystery that the Nazis are getting picked off at night, the victims of a vampire.
The Nazis believe that the attacks are really the work of the local gypsies, and slaughter them all.
But the attacks keep coming. And the mystery is resolved when it turns out that captain of the Nazis has been possessed by the spirit of Dracula.
That would imply that the actual Dracula is not around to defend his castle in a more personal manner. But my Essential Tomb of Dracula vol. 4 trade orders the stories from Dracula Lives (and other flotsam) in the SuperMegaMonkey approved way, by in-story chronological date instead of by publication date. And it shows that after Stoker's Dracula, Dracula was awoken in Frankenstein #7-9 in 1898, then was killed and resurrected twice by Death incarnate in Dracula Lives #9 in 1903, and then fought mobsters in Dracula Lives #8 in 1926. Dracula would also have been around circa WWI to sire Baron Blood, who ironically is working with the Nazis at this time.
We'll later see in Tomb of Dracula #58 that it's possible for an active vampire to possess and transform a human, so there's nothing contradictory about him possessing the Nazi captain in this story, but it is an oddly subtle way for him to act. Maybe he wanted to keep his presence a secret, knowing that if the Nazis returned to Germany talking about vampire spirits it would be written off as a fantasy more so than if Dracula slaughtered the Nazis wholesale.
It should be noted that while Dracula opposes the Nazis in this story, it's entirely due to self-interest. Dracula has no problem letting the Nazis think that the gypsies are responsible; he had ample time over a few nights to at least prevent some of them from being executed. I could see a story where, despite his evil vampiric tendencies, he feels a responsibility to protect "his" people from invaders, but this isn't it (Marvel Comics Presents #77-79 is, though).
Now i am going to cheat a little, but no more than when i will include Tales of Asgard stories in my Thor entries. Also included in Dracula Lives #2 is perhaps the story most referenced by other Dracula comics, so i want to cover it. Pretend it's a flashback.
The story is Dracula's origin, by Marv Wolfman and Neal Adams. It starts by showing his time as a Prince of Transylvania while battling invading Turks.
And a quick flashback to an even earlier period, when he earned his reputation as the Impaler.
Dracula is wounded in battle, but the leader of the Turks, Lord Turoc...
...wants to keep him alive as a political prisoner. So Turoc brings Dracula to an old woman named Lianda.
It turns out that Lianda is a vampire.
Turoc returns and, when he refuses to pay Lianda, she reveals that she's a vampire and attacks him. Turoc slays her (there is apparently a little bit of color in the original magazine. Black and white and red all over, i guess.).
Despite learning that Lianda was a vampire, Turoc is not suspicious about what she may have done to Dracula, and he takes him home and chains him up. Dracula later learns that his wife Maria was raped by the Turks.
When Maria refuses to sleep with Turoc again, the Turk pushes her away, accidentally killing her.
This enrages Dracula, causing him to use his new vampiric strength to escape...
...and kill Turoc.
He then slays the remaining Turks and deposits his son Vlad with a caravan of gypsies.
As i said earlier, Dracula's backstory is littered with additional inserts, and it'll later turn out that Maria was his second wife. His first wife, by an arranged marriage, was Zofia. He was abusively cruel to her, and she bore his vengeance seeking daughter Lilith (see Giant-Size Chillers #1). And Dracula's pre-vampire sadism is sometimes justified by an earlier lengthy imprisonment by the Turks, during which his brother was killed (this was shown in Tomb of Dracula Magazine #2). And in Bizarre Adventures #33, we'll learn that a creature called Varnae was orchestrating the events that led to Dracula becoming a vampire. But it's this story, and especially that death of Dracula's wife Maria, that continues to get referenced throughout the color Tomb of Dracula series. So you'll forgive me for sneaking it in to this entry. The Ratings and Characters Appearing below only reflect the Nazi story, though (but the Inbound References will be mostly references to the origin story). There is also another Dracula story in this issue, but it takes place in the modern day and is covered in a separate entry.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: Essential Tomb of Dracula vol. 4
Inbound References (12): show
You know, this raises the question- why didn't Stalin try to do anything to get rid of Dracula when he controlled Transylvania between 1944 and 1953? Especially since most of the major landowners in Transylvania had their property taken over by the state. Dracula being an Evil Aristocrat with a weakness to religious items would be a prime target for a Communist.
Posted by: Michael | February 5, 2015 8:05 PM
Perhaps Dracula resisted Stalin with the same vigor as he pursued the Turks; perhaps he was upheld by the West in the postwar period as a bulwark against Communism, as the fascists in Greece, Spain and Italy were.
Posted by: cullen | February 5, 2015 9:22 PM
Marvel had a schizophrenic portrayal of Eastern Europe. There were lots of pseudo-Balkan non-Communist countries during the Cold War. Latveria, Transia, Wundagore, Symkaria.
Especially once the horror boom began, Eastern Europe became the locale for monsters - because that is how the old gothic novels were - even though Communists were in control everywhere.
Now with the sliding time scale, it's not much of a problem.
Posted by: Chris | February 6, 2015 9:54 PM
I would assume that after a few attempts to destroy/oust Dracula failed, the USSR probably just declared Transylvania a no man's land and quietly pretended it never happened.
Posted by: Thanos6 | April 26, 2015 8:36 PM
As fnord mentions, this Dracula origin is revisited in Bizarre Adventures #33 with some inserts. It is also referenced as a memory by Dracula when he is under Doctor Strange's spell in Tomb of Dracula #44.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 10, 2016 11:01 PM
There is also a text story in #2 which is in the form of a letter from Dracula to Bram Stoker. Don't know if it's considered in-continuity, but it is another early fiction piece by Chris Claremont.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 13, 2016 11:57 AM
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