TOMB OF DRACULA ISSUE NUMBER FOURTEEN
"DRACULA IS DEAD!"
Cover Date: November 1973
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist: Gene Colan
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colorist: Tom Palmer
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Roy Thomas
Main Characters: Dracula, Blade, Quincy Harker, Rachel Van Helsing, Edith Harker, Frank Drake, and Taj
Synopsis:: Dracula is dead, having been staked through the heart by one of Blade's ebony wood knives. As Quincy Harker and his fellow vampire hunters check Dracula's body, a mob summoned by Dracula just moments before approaches their master's body. Quincy Harker prepares to sever Dracula's head, the only way in which the vampire can be destroyed forever. The hypnotized mob is too fast and they overwhelm the Drac Pack with sheer numbers, spiriting Dracula's body away. As Dracula's body is rescued, Quincy Harker tells the others that Dracula can be brought back if Blade's stake is removed.
Elsewhere, in a lab near the northern Irish coastline, a group of Chinese scientists examine a stolen corpse brought to them. As they hoped and suspected, their test of the body indicates that it is a corpse that will soon become a vampire. They note that their master Dr. Sun will be very pleased with their latest acquisition.
As Dracula's body begins to rapidly decompose from Blade's stake wound, his control over the hypnotized mob ends and they abandon his body and wander away, unsure of what has happened to them. Dracula's body is discovered by a disillussioned preacher named Josiah Dawn, a preacher who sees the body as a sign from God. He will raise Dracula from the dead and use this miracle to revive his failing ministry.
Dawn's advertises his upcoming revival featuring Dracula and one of his flyers catches the eye of Frank Drake. The Drac Pack rush to Dawn's revival where a large crowd of people watch the preacher talk of God's power over life and death. As he prepares to remove the stake, the Drac Pack attempt to stop him, warning him that he is bringing a monster back to life. He ignores their pleading and removes the stake, bringing Dracula back to life.
The Lord of Vampires turns to Josiah Dawn to kill the misguided preacher but Dawn repels Dracula with a cross. He then instructs his cross wielding followers to attack Dracula. Dracula is nearly overwhelmed by the mob until he summons forth a powerful storm and strikes down Josiah Dawn with a lightning bolt. As Dawn crumbles to the ground, he taunts Dracula, telling the vampire that he will never know peace while Dawn is going to be with the Lord.
NOTES: This issue marked the first time in which Dracula was "killed" in TOD. However his death is a short one thanks to the misguided efforts of preacher Josiah Dawn who sees reviving Dracula as a way to bring back followers to the fold. Nothing is said of how Dawn knows that the corpse he finds is a vampire but from the story Dawn is obviously familiar with vampires in that he knows that removing the stake will restore one and he knows the cross will repel one. It seems unlikely though that Dawn knew what vampire he was reviving or he may have reconsidered his desperation attempt to build up his church.
This issue shows the difficulty in permanently destroying Dracula. While Blade was successful in destroying Dracula, Dracula's contingency plan of having hypnotized villagers rescue his corpse allows Dracula to escape without being totally destroyed. As we will see in later issues, Dracula has many followers, both human and vampire who work to revive him if he is ever defeated in battle.
This issue illustrates not only the transformation process from death to undeath but also what happens when a vampire is staked and the stake removed. Here, Dracula's body begins to decompose as soon as he is staked through the heart by Blade. Eventually, his body becomes nothing more than bones. However, while Dracula is incapacitated, he can only be truly destroyed if his head is severed. Here, there is not enough time to do so and Dracula wastes away. However, as soon as the stake is removed from him, his body quickly reforms and in a matter of moments he is fully restored. The manner in which flesh and other tissue reform from seemingly nowhere is not explained.
We also see part of the transformation from death to undeath when the Chinese scientists examine the body of someone recently killed by a vampire. The scientists note the change of iris color to red as well as the slow appearance of canine teeth (under a fluoroscope).
Though it is nowhere near the same in terms of loss suffered, Rachel Van Helsing pays a heavy price in this issue as well. Here, her face is scarred by the vampire bats, scars that would remain with her for the rest of the series.
Again, we also see someone transformed from a vampire in less than three days. Here, Dracula transforms Edith into a vampire in apparently one day.