TOMB OF DRACULA #1-6 (1972-1973)

I want to make something clear as I write the first post in the Tomb of Dracula category: I’m not a huge horror comic fan.  However, these stories are clearly inside the main Marvel Universe.  They may not have started that way in 1972, but over time many of the main characters and events were folded in.  So I’m going to review them.

Let me also say that Tomb of Dracula was a good comic.  Objectively good.  I’m just not a huge fan.

So, now that we’ve got that out the way: The initial issues are spent worldbuilding.  Dracula had not yet been a part of the Marvel Universe, so Gerry Conway and Gene Colan were painting on a clean canvas.  We meet Frank Drake, who inherited the Castle Dracula and is trying to sell it.

As he is cleaning out the structure, he comes across Dracula, dead in the basement.

Being a skeptic, Drake removes the wooden stake sitting the skeleton’s chest…

Once revived, he goes on a feeding frenzy, turns Drake’s girlfriend and hypnotizes his best friend, and grabs the attention of Rachel Van Helsing and Taj Nital.

Vampire hunters.

And the hunt is on, the characters are introduced. The pacing is gradual.

Also, Dracula turns someone and this happens.

No, it’s not important. But it’s pretty funny.

And the great Neal Adams does the cover of #6.

3 thoughts on “TOMB OF DRACULA #1-6 (1972-1973)”

  1. I’m a little perplexed at the “C” rating given to this opening issue of Marvel’s legendary “Tomb of Dracula”- this series, from it’s very first splash-page, is as classy as comic-book horror can possibly get! Across it’s seven years of publication, ( seemed like a LOT longer than that at the time, for some reason, I guess because the 1970’s were such a busy decade ) this series won numerous industry awards for excellence in the field of comic-books, and quite deservedly so. I believe Gene Colan and Tom Palmer were quite literally BORN to draw this series- their previous excellent work on ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Doctor Strange’ were just preliminary warm-up exercises for this series, and writer Gerry Conway demonstrates his equal facility at writing dramatic horror as well as the superhero-stuff. By the way, most comics-fans don’t realize that Gerry Conway was only of college-age when he was writing for Marvel in the early Seventies, and yet, his prose reads like the greatest writers of the Twentieth Century! When somebody asks me why I still read comic-books at this point in my life, I hand them a copy of anything written by Gerry Conway, usually ‘Tomb of Dracula’ or ‘The Mighty Thor’ from the early Seventies! Damn good stuff! 1972 gave me two of my biggest media-crushes, with ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan of ‘M*A*S*H’, and Rachel Van Helsing of ‘Tomb of Dracula’! Rachel- poor, tortured Rachel, was SO beautiful, and mismatched for a life of vampire-hunting. I know I’m a pessimist and all, but from the very moment I first beheld the heavenly Rachel in the third issue, I KNEW she wasn’t going to come to any kind of a good end, and, as we all saw one decade later in the 1982 ‘X-Men’ Annual…….. I was RIGHT. Rachel was just too beautiful, and too beautiful of a soul, to be able to successfully emerge from a career of vampire-hunting totally unscathed, and I was right. I was right, from the very first panel she appeared on. Dracula was simply too deadly a quarry for her to pursue so doggedly without it eventually going bad for her. Kinda like what eventually happens to people who handle rattlesnakes for a living. ( or the late Steve Irwin- the “Crocodile Hunter”, for that matter. ) Frank Drake’s poor, doomed inamorata Jeannie, Drac’s first snack of the series, also has done quite a superhuman job of remaining in my head for the past fifty years now, for being so beautiful, as well! Just something about the way that Gene the Dean drew her- very beautiful. Too bad she bit the dust at the conclusion of of issue #2- I would’ve enjoyed seeing much more of her. The triangle between she and Frank and that rat-bastard Clifton Graves would have provided this series with much romantic conflict for quite some time. But, this is a Dracula comic, after all, and in Dracula comics, regardless of the publisher, people tend to die in massive droves, so, a frail little flower like Jeannie really didn’t have much of a chance. Can you believe that scumbag Graves was actually planning to MURDER Frank Drake in this first issue, to ( somehow ) inherit Drac’s castle, and abscond with Jeannie??? I’m glad he DIED!! He deserved to!! I hate to report that I am actually acquainted with a scumbag like Graves, myself, who has actually indicated to me and all those around us, that he would love to bump ME off, if he could figure a way to do it without the trail leading back to him! No kidding! So, you see, people, “people” like Clifton Graves really exist in this world, I’m very sad to say. But I digress…. the first several issues of “Tomb of Dracula”, in 1972, established a precedent for horror comic-books that simply has not been exceeded, either before, or SINCE!! I don’t know if I would be interested in seeing a reboot of this series, since Gene Colan and Archie Goodwin are gone, Gerry Conway has gone on to higher things, and poor, lovely, Rachel Van Helsing is among the angels. I don’t believe the “lightning in a bottle” that was the 1970’s “Tomb of Dracula” series can ever be recaptured. And maybe that is for the best! Word!

    • Everybody has their favorites, and I get a lot of comments about “how dare I not love what I love.” That said, you’re pretty spot-on. I upgraded the rating. ToD is one of those series that most people write off as corny–but it was pretty damn great.

  2. Damn sure was! Under the right creative team, maybe a relaunch of “Tomb of Dracula”, 2020’s-style, could be worth our time. But, of course, most great ideas do belong to their time. “Dark Shadows” is a good example of this. It’s 1990-1991 relaunch could not grab any traction in the high-tech, space-age, science-fiction era Nineties. So, who knows-??? I would not care to see the memory of the perfection of Marvel’s 1970’s “Tomb of Dracula” series sullied/besmirched, etc. It would be a crap-shoot. Again, hold off until only the RIGHT creative team could become available! Excelsior!


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