Vampire Tales #2-9
Issue(s): Vampire Tales #2, Vampire Tales #3, Vampire Tales #4, Vampire Tales #5, Vampire Tales #6, Vampire Tales #7, Vampire Tales #8, Vampire Tales #9
Morbius - issues #2-5,7-8
Lilith - issue #6
Angie Freeman - issue #6
Blade - issues #8-9
Satana (?) - issue #9
Additionally, since it is a Marvel 1970s horror comic, every third character is a Satanist. In fact, the plot of the story is about a poor young woman named Amanda Saint, and everyone she knows turns out to be a Satanist that is secretly plotting against her: her boyfriend, her sister, her mother, and even her father is somehow mixed up in all of it, although by the time we get to him my mind had zonked out. Amanda gains an unlikely ally in Morbius, who has to stop once an issue to kill a random passerby.
In fact, Morbius only got mixed up in all of this in the first place because he intended to drink Amanda's blood, but the Satanists got there first.
And of course this sort of thing goes on as well.
In addition to run of the mill Satanists, Morbius fights a giant spider...
...a man with a clam for a head...
...a deranged hook-handed guy...
...and some people possessed by demons that are styling themselves after the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
And he is just a few years too late for an encounter with Jonah Hex.
With McGregor, it's not just the scripting that goes down tangents. There are whole scenes devoted to things that turn out to be irrelevant to the plot, like Amanda's Satanist boyfriend Justin not liking that his roommates are dealing drugs.
I guess it's not entirely irrelevant, because it's how Justin gets his comeuppance at the end. It's totally random but holy crap that's some excessive force.
There's also a subthread about two young people, one that idolizes a local politician (that turns out to be the Satanic clamhead) and the other that is more cynical, allowing McGregor to do running commentary about politics all of which is basically apart from the main plot. This sort of thing adds a lot of depth to the story; a lot of different angles.
And gore, because the naive one winds up getting his head blown off.
Both of Amanda's parents wind up dead, and Amanda stays with the amusement park owner while Morbius departs.
Besides Morbius, a few other Marvel characters appear in separate stories in these issues. The credits in the front of my digest trade say that Roy Thomas plotted the Lilith story in Vampire Tales #6, but the credits in the actual issue and on the UHBMCC and GCD say it was plotted by Marv Wolfman.
Lilith wanders the streets, dispensing vengeance for women attacked by predators.
Meanwhile, the "common-law wife" of a man named Martin Gold is killed in the shower.
Martin is briefly arrested, but he's released when more such murders occur while he's in custody. He bumps into Lilith's alter ego, Angel O'Hara, and she makes him take her home.
Later, he leaves to get some food, and the murderer returns, apparently having anticipated that Martin would have replaced his girlfriend already.
But this time he's facing Lilith.
Lilith listens to his crazy story about how he has to punish women because of their modern sexual standards, and then she speaks up for those women.
About a previous Vampire Tales story written by Gerber, i said it was kind of quintessential 70s. But Gerber's gender politics here feel very modern. I like Lilith.
I should note that, as Angel, she's unaware that she's Lilith. And she's also pregnant.
A pair of Blade stories in issues #8 and #9 are the first two parts of a Legion of the Damned storyline. The whorehouse where Blade was raised is invaded by vampires, and a regular patron named Billy-Blue is killed, with a warning written on his chest.
Blade waits until Billy-Blue comes back as a vampire, and then gets the location of the vampire coven that attacked him before killing him (again).
Blade gets overwhelmed by the sheer number of vampires at the coven.
He winds up getting bit.
Regular readers of the Tomb of Dracula series know that Blade's one "superpower" at this point is his immunity to vampire bites. But he plays along and pretends to be in the thrall of the main vampire, Anton Vierkin (who looks very much like Anton LaVey).
Vierkin is being directed by a Marguerite D'alescio, who channels the orders of a "master". The master will turn out to be Dracula, but we don't learn that yet.
While Vierkin is talking with the master, Blade escapes. He contacts Quincy Harker and asks for help.
But while Blade is talking to Quincy, the vampires return and kill all of Blade's prostitute friends.
So when Quincy arrives, Blade tells him that he's doing it alone after all.
That's where it ends for now. Advertisements promise that the final part will come in issue #10, then #11, and then #12, but there is no #12. The story finally surfaces in Marvel Preview #3.
Also in issue #9, there is a story about a guy having bleak psychedelic vision that involve vampires.
The MCP identify the woman appearing in the vision as Satana and count it as a real appearance.
It all turns out to be the visions of a heroin addict, though.
Here's your random crazy panel from one of the other stories.
And don't forget to drink your Marvel beer while you're watching Marvel TV.
There a story in issue #6 written by Chris Claremont that is just very nicely written, with art by Andres Balcells. I don't always love Claremont's early writing but his story was a highlight among some more stock material. The story probably wasn't intended to be a Marvel universe story, but as Michael notes in the comments, Claremont brings back the main character, Angie Freeman, in a Daughters of the Dragon story.
Angie is a reporter working alongside a police officer that is investigating the death of a junkie.
The trail leads them to a massacre of junkies and lowlifes.
Angie finds evidence that her brother may have been involved in the killings. The idea is her brother has allied himself with a vampire, and the "People's Defense Association of Harlem" have made an agreement with the vampire that he'll keep the crime off the streets if they'll look the other way when he kills.
The locals wind up turning Angie over to the vampire so that she can be made into a vampire too.
It's a standard story with a twist, but it's an interesting premise, and it's just better scripted than average.
There's also some really nice art by Paul Gulacy, clearly influenced by Steranko, in issue #7.
And here is a minor complaint. The inside covers of some of the issues have little stories detailing the supposedly true legends of various vampires or vampire-like creatures. This one clearly describes a story about a Chinese vampire-like creature that got defeated because it got its long claws stuck in a tree. But the art shows the vampire impaling itself on a tree branch.
This bugged me because the various ideas about vampires from different cultures is interesting, and the art genericizes things by having the vampire get killed the same way an "ordinary" vampire would.
There's also what i thought was a pretty cool story by Gerry Conway where people were getting sucked into the future as a byproduct of a weird kind of energy mining that the people of the future were doing, drawing energy from the past. And one of the people that gets brought to the future turns out to be a vampire, and he's is able to act with abandon in this future world, because people have grown soft and weak. But then someone else from the past is brought to the future, and he's able to hunt the vampire. I thought all that was pretty innovative, but then the second guy from the past turns out to be Jack the Ripper, and i thought that was a bit much. Still a unique story compared to most of the non-canon ones, though.
Altogether, it's an interesting if sometimes exhausting collection of stories, most with nice art. I'm glad that Marvel decided to reprint them (even in the tiny digest format).
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Morbius appears here between Fear #24-25. The whole story is said to take place over the course of a year but i'm thinking that's conflating publication time with story time and i'm ignoring it for placement purposes. Blade's story is continued in Marvel Preview #3 and that should probably be his next appearance. The Lilith story introduces Martin Gold so this should take place before his appearances in Dracula Lives, Marvel Preview, and Tomb of Dracula. The Satana stories from Vampire Tales #2 and Vampire Tales #3 are covered in separate entries. I'm not counting the Satana appearance; even if it is meant to be her, it seems to just be a dream sequence.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Vampire Tales Digest Vol. 1-3
Inbound References (3): show
Wow. The layout and design work here, from all the artists, is incredible.
Posted by: cullen | May 26, 2016 8:59 PM
Some of this art's just fantastic. Rather enjoyable read through a darkened Marvel corner Fnord12.
Posted by: Ceci | May 26, 2016 9:12 PM
In that first panel in the "Demon Fire" scan, that guy is reading the Menomonee Falls Gazette, a real-life fanzine that reprinted lots of old American and British comic strips.
I can't agree that that's Satana. Moench never otherwise wrote her, and the character comes off much more like Lilith.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 27, 2016 4:02 PM
And in any event, it's just a drug induced dream sequence. I've removed the tag.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 27, 2016 6:34 PM
Re: the Claremont story in issue 6- it's not non-canon since the vampire in that story- Angie Freeman- later appears in the Daughters of the Dragon story in Bizarre Adventures 25.
Posted by: Michael | June 10, 2016 11:27 PM
Thanks Michael. I've added a summary of the story and listed Angie as a character.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 20, 2016 12:58 PM
I don't think Angie's brother IS the vampire- the scan above shows that Angie's brother is the vampire's "friend".
Posted by: Michael | June 20, 2016 8:48 PM
Posted by: fnord12 | June 21, 2016 10:25 AM
Blade should have relented and asked for Saint to accompany him on the hunt. That poor dog needed to cut loose instead of staying behind and listening to the whiny/moany dynamics of Frank and Rachel and Quincy "philosophizing.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | November 3, 2017 5:58 PM
Comments are now closed.
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