TOMB OF DRACULA NUMBER ONE

"DRACULA"

Cover Date: April 1972 Issue

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artist: Gene Colan:

Letterer: Jon Costa

Editor: Stan Lee

Main Characters: Dracula, Frank Drake, Clifford Graves, Jean

Synopsis: Issue One opens on a dark and stormy night :) as a car journeys into a village in Transylvainia.  Inside are Frank Drake who hopes to recapture the family fortune he has foolishly wasted, his business partner Clifton Graves, and Drakes's girlfriend Jean (who Drake romanced from Graves). Drake hopes to turn his last possession, a mysterious castle reportedly linked to the legend of Dracula into a tourist attraction.  Drake is supposedly the descendant of Dracula and while he does not believe the diaries he has read about Dracula, he is curious about the castle and the legend behind it.  

As the trio explore the castle, Clifton Graves falls through a weak floor and stumbles across a tomb.  Inside is a skeleton with a stake through its chest.  Graves removes the stake as he wonders how he will kill Drake.  He has longed to kill Drake ever since he stole his girlfriend from him.  If all goes well, Drake's death will seem accidental and not only will he gain Drake's interest in the business, but he will regain Jean's love as well.

As Graves mulls revenge, he does not notice the strange transformation occuring in the tomb.  The skeleton transforms into the form of a man-Dracula.  Graves turns and in a panic, shoots Dracula but to no avail.  The vampire picks him up effortlessly and hurls him into a pit.

Elsewhere in the castle, Frank and Jean are exploring.  Suddenly, Dracula appears and compels Jean to come to him.  Mesmerized by the vampire lord, she walks towards him until Drake slaps her unconscious. Dracula goes to attack but is repelled by a silver compact wielded by Drake and flees.

Drake takes Jean to one of the castle's bedrooms as Dracula turns towards the village in search of blood.  He finds a barmaid at a local tavern and lies in wait for her.  Soon thereafter, the townspeople discover the slain girl and learn that Dracula lives again.

Dracula returns to the castle and discovers Jean sleeping.  However a cross worn by Jean keeps Dracula at bay.  Suddenly, Frank Drake enters the room, ready to defend his lover. Unfortunately, Drake throws the silver compact at Dracula thinking that it can harm Dracula and discovers that it has no effect.  Dracula goes after Drake and soon dispatches of his descendant. He then mesmerizes Jean into removing the cross and soon she is his.

Drake awakens to find Dracula standing over Jean, even as a mob outside attempts to destroy the castle.  Drake finds the compact and again uses it to repel the vampire.  Dracula flees but even as he does, Drake realizes Dracula has won for Jean is now a vampire.  She flies away as Drake mulls his future.

NOTES:  The first issue, while pretty good doesn't hint at the complex treatment of Dracula that is seen in later issues.  This issue is pretty much a knock off of any vampire film we've seen before.  You have the inadvertent discovery of Dracula's body, a village maiden attacked by Dracula, the angry townspeople, etc. Still, it's a good story that gets you acquainted with the characters and gets the series started.  The art by Gene Colan is absolutely stunning and he really captures the atmosphere you'd expect for a vampire movie.  The series was really lucky to have Colan on the book and it is some of his best work ever IMO.

Some oddities in this issue-Dracula's skin is chalky white even though other vampires skin is more flesh tone.  Another interesting point is Drake's use of the silver compact to repel Dracula. As will be seen in subsequent issues, the writers are still experimenting with various vampire myths in regards to Drac's weaknesses and abilities.

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