Issue(s): Tomb of Dracula #18, Werewolf By Night #15, Tomb of Dracula #19, Tomb of Dracula #20, Tomb of Dracula #21
Cover Date: Mar-Jun 74
Title: "Enter: Werewolf by Night" / "Death of a monster!" / "Snowbound in hell!" / "The coming of Doctor Sun" / "Deathknell"
Marv Wolfman - Writer
Gene Colan / Mike Ploog - Penciler
Tom Palmer / Frank Chiaramonte - Inker
Dracula attempts to feed on Jack Russell's mystic friend Topaz...
...and winds up in a inconclusive fight with the Werewolf By Night.
Topaz's immunity to Dracula and her ability to tame Werewolf By Night is intriguing, perhaps to the point where her powers threaten to derail the Werewolf series, which is why we'll soon see her depowered.
Jack is in Transylvania to find his father's diary.
At the Russoff manor he finds a secret tunnel that leads to Dracula's castle.
Mind you, this is after the initial fight with Dracula. It's one thing to create a link between Jack's family and Dracula, but to have them fight first completely by coincidence and then create a separate connection is just silly. It's also odd that the family history never really created more of a connection between the two Marvel horror characters, possibly because this is Marv Wolfman's last issue of Werewolf By Night.
Note that we are at the Russoff manor, not the Russoff castle, which we saw moved to California stone by stone in an earlier issue of Werewolf By Night.
It turns out that Jack Russell's father Gregory Russoff became a werewolf when he found a female werewolf in Dracula's castle and got infected. This was after he killed Dracula (temporarily, of course!).
The second fight, illustrated by Mike Ploog, takes place in the Werewolf's book but it's also inconclusive.
You can see that Dracula wants the "second book of Sin" from Jack and Topaz. Dracula earlier identified it as "far more fearful and terrifying than the ancient Darkhold scrolls" and as a book that could mean his death...
...and he'll later say that it could "destroy me forever".
The final vampire/werewolf fight is complicated by the arrival of Frank Drake and Rachel Van Helsing as well.
It seems the second Darkhold that Jack Russell found at his father's place is important enough to Dracula that he breaks off from his fight to chase Rachel when she runs off with it.
Dracula and Rachel end up trapped in snowbound peaks of the Transylvanian alps, forced to rely on each other to survive (Dracula keeps Rachel alive so he can feed on her when necessary).
Having won the Darkhold from Werewolf By Night, Dracula now casually tosses it away in the snowy wilderness.
Meanwhile, Quincy Harker finds Blade, who was defeated after his confrontation with Dracula in issue #17, but finds that Blade is immune to the disease of vampirism because his mother was killed by a vampire while she was in labor.
Blade decides to hunt down the vampire that killed his mother.
Frank Drake eventually hunts Rachel and Dracula down in a helicopter and chases Dracula off with a machine gun that fires wooden bullets. Dracula flees into a cave that turns out to contain a trap set by the mysterious Doctor Sun. Dracula awakens in Sun's current lair in Northern Ireland. Sun turns out to be a brain in a jar.
He is a product of the Chinese communists, created in an attempt to attach a human brain to an advanced computer. Sun's brain managed to actually take control of the computer. He considers himself a vampire and makes Lucas Brand, a biker thug that Dracula previously turned into a vampire but i never saw fit to mention in previous reviews, fight Dracula in order to claim the title of Lord of the Vampires.
Clifton Graves is hanging around with Doctor Sun as well.
Rachel and Drake show up during the fight, but they get captured. Sun transfers Dracula's thoughts to both Brand and himself (the fact that Sun is in between Dracula and Brand will have major implications for future issues)...
...and then Brand and Dracula fight.
when Brand defeats Dracula and prepares to betray Sun...
...Sun destroys his base. Dracula manages to escape, as do Rachel and Frank, but the vampire hunters are under the impression that Dracula was killed, setting up a new scenario for the next year or so in the comics.
Everyone loves a Werewolf/Vampire fight, and the Doctor Sun plot is just out of place enough in this comic to keep things interesting. The Dracula/Van Helsing pair-up allowed for some good character moments without softening Dracula, too. Gene Colan's art isn't great for the action scenes (compare to Ploog's art, which is clearly not as good but at least you can tell what's going on).
Quality Rating: C
Historical Significance Rating: 3 - first full Doctor Sun
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Tomb of Dracula vol. 1
First off, love this site. I remember as a kid picking up the old Power Records at K-Mart with 45" vinyl, condensed versions of the comics with reworked lettering, and,in the Marvel Monsters subset, a heavy dose of narration by ol' Speed Racer himself, Peter Fernandez (RIP). For "The Curse of the Werewolf", they blended Marvel Spotlight #2 (Jack Russell's origin) with Tomb of Dracula #18. Odd in hindsight to blend two such contrasting art styles, though I am a fan of both Ploog and Colan. As a 7-8 year it was entertaing and spooky, and still fun to revisit 40-odd years later.
Also recall the book-and-record packaging of TOD #19 as "Terror in the Snow". If memory serves, they kept in the part where Dracula kills the ram for food and complained of the taste. Bet that weirded out a few impressionable young minds!
My recommended music for reading TOD #19 to would be Yes' "South Side of the Sky" from the FRAGILE album. Of course, that song is great for any story with prominent snow and mountains. A fan favorite, it was rarely played live because the members found it tough to get the right sound. For reading comics in general, if I need some background music, I tend towards progressive rock like Yes or Jethro Tull to set the mood.