Every day this week a new supernatural character from the Marvel Universe gets the spooky spotlight leading up to Halloween!
Technically, Dracula entered the Marvel Universe with 1951’s SUSPENSE #7, but the vampire lord really made a splash in 1972 with TOMB OF DRACULA #1. Thanks to a slackening of the Comics Code Authority rules, comics could finally feature monsters in the title again, hence the man formerly known as Vlad scoring a new series penned by Gerry Conway with art by Gene Colan.
TOMB OF DRACULA started off like many a horror classic with people driving around in the rain looking for a creepy castle. In this case, the group consisted of Frank Drake, his girlfriend Jean, and his friend Clifton who also happened to be Jean’s ex. Heading to Transylvania, Frank planned to cash in on a family castle that allegedly belonged to the legendary vampire Count Dracula.
After arriving at the spooky locale, the shifty Clifton took a tumble through some old floorboards that inevitably lead him to Dracula’s tomb. Having removed the stake sticking out of the skeleton’s chest, Clifton inadvertently resurrected the lord of the vampires, getting thrown down a well in the process.
Unleashed and hungry, Dracula presented himself to Frank and Jean, hypnotizing the latter. Frank brutally knocked Jean out to save her from becoming one of Dracula’s mindless minions, but their initial confrontation with the monster ended when a silver compact came into play. Not wanting the trouble, Dracula flew into town and tried to feast on a local, but did not enjoy her taste.
Back in the castle, the Count came upon a sleeping Jean, but recoiled when he got closer to her gold cross. Frank then confronted him once again leading to another tussle. During the conflagration, Dracula revealed that Frank shared a curse with him that would eventually make itself known.
Meanwhile, outside, the townspeople set fire to the castle which cut the confrontation short. Dracula made off with Jean for a moment, but Frank found himself next to her on the ground—only to discover that she had been turned into a vampire!
TOMB OF DRACULA ran for 70 issues from 1972 to 1979 and introduced another vamp-related character: Blade. The series proved so popular that it spawned a concurrent black-and-white magazine, DRACULA LIVES, as well as a number of GIANT-SIZE DRACULA specials and even another black-and-white magazine called TOMB OF DRACULA that launched after the comic ended, running until 1980.
The lord of the vampires went on to face off against the X-Men a number of times, co-star in a book called NIGHTSTALKERS in the 90’s and fight a powered-up Jade Giant in the FEAR ITSELF: HULK VS. DRACULA three-issue a limited series. Even when you least expect him, Dracula’s always waiting on the fringes, ready to make a meal out of the next pretty face to walk by.
Come back tomorrow for another Halloween Spooklight on Man-Thing!