- Written by: Marv Wolfman
- Artist: Gene Colan
- Inker: Tom Palmer
- Letterer: John Costanza
- Colourist: Linda Lessmann
- Editor: Roy Thomas
- ‘As seen in Werewolf By Night: In The Blood (2009)’
Dracula, the lord of all vampires, brought to life in 1897 in a novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. Over the years the character of Dracula has been adapted into films, television shows, video games, novels and more but it is without a doubt that Bram Stoker was the first to popularise the character, with it’s many connections to historical figures such as Vlad the Impaler.
It is no surprise that Vampires have taken over every medium to date, including comic books. There are many vampires within comics, such as Morbius, Vampirella, Blade and more, and even characters like Wolverine for Marvel, or Batman for DC have been turned into vampires at least once.*
However, none of these vampires can compare to the power and popularity that Dracula has, as he is often referred to as ‘the first’ or ‘the original’. Almost every country in the world has their fair share of vampires or vampire-like creatures within their folk lore dating back centuries before Bram Stoker was even born, but whilst his book wasn’t a huge success from the start, Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel has become a world wide cult classic phenomenon, selling millions of copies and having been reprinted and adapted for other mediums countless times.
No one, and no thing can compare to Dracula, which is why Marvel decided to create a comic book series of their own about the lord of vampires, with 1970’s Tomb of Dracula.
Like all good Dracula stories, this issue takes place in Transylvania, home of the Count himself, and full of cowardly superstitious humans. Jack Russell is travelling with his companion Topaz, to return to his family home in order to find a cure for his lycanthropy. Meanwhile, two more characters are travelling in the same direction; a pair of vampire hunters by the name of Drake and Van Helsing. Dracula himself has returned to his home after a three year escape to England.
Jack and Topaz find themselves in a difficult position after Jack’s werewolf side loses control and attacks a local drunkard. Shortly after Dracula tries to feed on Topaz but discovers that there is more to this woman than meets the eye. Jack (in werewolf form) attacks Dracula in Topaz’s defence and thus a battle of monsters ensues.
Later on at the Russell Mansion, Jack and Topaz discover a locked diary, and a secret passage that leads to Castle Dracula. Another encounter with the Lord of Vampires, and another fight for the werewolf within Jack, this story gives us everything we could want, but not too much, as it leaves us with a cliffhanger that sets up the crossovers second half which publishes in the Werewolf by Night comic series instead of Tomb of Dracula.
A lot of the plot involves references to previous events in the series, with ‘*’ being used for footnotes, that tell us when this happened and what issue it was in. There is a lot of these within the older comics, and nowadays you don’t get many footnotes that help you learn where the references come from, so it’s certainly interesting to see that this plot isn’t simply written for this specific crossover, but it has in fact been developing for some time.
The art in these comics are a lot brighter than what we would get today, especially for comics that are placed within the ‘horror’ genre. The Werewolf if adorned with bright green trousers, torn but in tact enough to cover any decency the wolf might have, whilst Dracula is cloaked in a blue cape and suit with red trim. The designs for the two focus characters are excellently drawn and whilst there is a lot of colour, with the majority of the story being set at night, there is also a heavy use of shadow and shading on the characters, to give you the sense of where the light is from gas lamps or the moon itself.
This issue is certainly a great start to a crossover, and whilst it has way more referrals to previous events in the series, I feel like it is definitely easy to simply pick up and read without that prior knowledge. The art, even with the reprints to make them bolder and clearer, certainly gives you that nostalgic feel, especially since this issue and the following issue, Werewolf by Night #15, are printed into the back of Werewolf By Night: In The Blood which was published in 2009, thirty-five years after these single issues were first printed.