Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tomb of Dracula Vol. 1

Writers:  Marv Wolfman, Gerry Conway, Archie Goodwin, Gardner Fox

Penciler:  Gene Colan

Inkers:   Gene Colan, Tom Palmer, Vince Colletta, Ernie Chan, Jack Abel
Collects issues 1-12 of Tomb of Dracula

A Recipe for Disaster
When you look at the credits for this collection, you know it is not the ideal situation.  Usually when you put out a new book with four writers, one penciler, and five inkers it means that the book will not be around for long.  If you have not read this collection, give it a chance.
Somehow the various writer changes work.  I can only credit the editors (Stan Lee and Roy Thomas) with keeping the book focused through the many changes in writers.  If you did not read the credits, it would be hard to tell that this was not written by one person.  The characterization stays consistent.  The plot line progresses with out any major changes. 
And what a variety of stories this collection presents.  Included in this book are undead armies, time travel, voodoo, a journey to find oneself, a shipboard mystery and the introduction of Blade the Vampire Hunter.
The initial storyline is a classic.  Down on his luck Frank Drake, along with his best friend and his girlfriend, journeys to visit his ancestral castle.  Unfortunately for him, it is the home of Count Dracula.  It seems that Frank's family changed their last name so as to disassociate themselves from their ancestor.
Of course, things never go as planned.  Dracula is reborn.  One of the ongoing plotlines involves Frank joining others to form a "Scooby" team to take down Dracula.  This would continue to be one of the many storylines throughout the entire series.  
Tomb of Dracula features the early Marvel work of Marv Wolfman.  He does a good job in this collection but does not really hit his stride until shortly after this edition.  Wolfman would make a name for himself as the Dracula writer.  Later on he would become better known as a writer of superhero books.

A Thing of Beauty 
I don't know how else to describe the art of Gene Colan.  He has a unique style that perfectly fits this book.  Colan excels at making each panel moody and mysterious.  He is one of the best at drawing "real" people. 
The art is a little erratic during the early issues.  Not all of the inkers were a good fit for Colan's art.  The two that stand out above the others are Tom Palmer and Colan himself.  The art became perfect for this title when Palmer took over as the full time inker.
Luckily, Colan is strong enough that he was able to keep the art at an above average level in spite of the inking.
Without a doubt, Colan is the best artist at drawing fog and mist.  After reading this book you will look at fog differently.

Who Stalks the Vampire?
Who stalks the vampire is the title of one of the stories in this book.  I would recommend that any reader interested in well done comics should be stalking the book shelves looking for this collection.  And stick with the series, after this things keep getting better.

Highly recommended. 

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