TOMB OF DRACULA ISSUE NUMBER TWENTY

"THE COMING OF DR. SUN"

Cover Date: May 1974

Writer: Marv Wolfman

Pencils:: Gene Colan

Inker: Tom Palmer

Colorist: Glynis Wein

Letterer: John Costanza

Editor: Roy Thomas

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Main Characters: Dracula, Frank Drake, Rachel Van Helsing, Clifford Graves.

Synopsis: With the help of Frank Drake, Rachel Van Helsing has escaped from Dracula high in the Transylvanian Alps.  Now, safely aboard a helicopter, the two hunt Dracula with wooden bullets, pursuing him through a fierce snowstorm. Aboard the helicopter, Van Helsing tells Drake that Dracula is weak from lack of blood but the vampire lord proves to be quite elusive as he uses the raging snowstorm to hide out from his pursuers.

Desperately thirsty for blood, Dracula stumbles across a campsite in the mountains.  He discovers a cave with two corpses and a fortune in ancient treasure.Apparently the two had discovered the treasure only to be consumed by greed and one killed the other, only to fall victim to exposure.  Unfortunately for Dracula, the two have been dead too long for their blood to be of any use to him. Dracula curses the situation he is in.  What good are the diamonds and rubies before him?  Nothing but blood will save him now.

Elsewhere, Drake and Van Helsing continue their their hunt for Dracula despite Drake wanting to call it off after circling the Alps without any further sign of Dracula.  Drake tells Van Helsing she is a stubborn woman and he learns why she is so determined to slay Dracula.  

Van Helsing tells Drake of how her grandfather Abraham Van Helsing believed he had destroyed Dracula (in the events that the book Dracula was based on) only to have the vampire lord return years later and kill him. Dracula's revenge was far from complete though.  When Rachel was nine years old, her parents were killed before her eyes by Dracula.  Rachel herself was saved when Quincy Harker arrived on the scene.  Dracula left, warning Harker that Rachel Van Helsing's time would come.  Rachel tells Frank that Harker raised her to adulthood and asks him if her story explains her stubborn streak.

Elsewhere, a severely weakened Dracula attempts to fly through the blizzard when it begins to slow down.  He is knocked to the mountains when a powerful gust of wind slams him to the ground, knocking him unconscious.

Back in Northern Ireland, the vampire Brand finally meets the being known as Dr. Sun.  Expecting to meet a man, he is startled when Dr. Sun reveals himself as a human brain sheathed in some sort of fantastic containment device.  

Dracula wakes up to find himself bound with a combination of chains and garlic.  An Oriental known as Dr. Morgo greets Dracula and tells him that Dr. Sun has been studying the vampire lord for some time now.  Morgo tells Dracula that initially it was difficult to track the vampire lord until they gained the help of someone close to Dracula.  Morgo reveals Dracula's Judas as Dracula is shocked to see his former slave Clifford Graves.  

Dracula had abandoned Graves after he set off explosives aboard a cruiseship. Dr. Sun's operatives discovered Graves' lifeless body and used Sun's advanced scientific methods to restore Graves to life.  In return, Graves told them everything he knew of Dracula, eager to revenge himself on his former master who had left him to die.

Graves then taunts Dracula with a vial of blood.  He waves the blood in Dracula's face only to be kicked in the face by Dracula.  Even tied up, Dracula is still a threat until Morgo plunges a stake into his heart.  He quickly removes the stake and warns Dracula that any further outbursts will result in Dracula's death.

Nearby, Drake and Van Helsing discover a manmade passage in the side of a mountain.  Suspecting it may be one of Dracula's lairs, they take the helicopter down to search the area.

Back in Dracula's cell, Dracula has slipped free of the garlic laced chains and attacks Dr. Morgo and Clifford Graves.  He makes short work of both only to be confronted by Van Helsing and Drake as well as Dr. Sun's soldiers.  Van Helsing fires her crossbow at Dracula who spins and throws Graves' body into the quarrel's path.  Before the battle can continue, Dracula, Van Helsing, and Drake find themselves trapped in an immobility beam.  Dr. Sun appears and tells Dracula that he has brought him here so that he can duel with him for lordship of all vampires.

NOTES: One of the strong points of Marvel Comics best books was strong continuity.  Nowhere was this seen better than in TOD where Marv Wolfman weaved a rich tapestry of characters and history through the book from start to finish.  For the past year Wolfman gave us glimpes of the mysterious Dr. Sun, revealing bits and bits of his plan but always leaving the reader searching for more.  Why was Sun looking for vampires to train?  What is the nature of Dr. Sun? What was his ultimate goal. Finally in TOD, we learn what Sun's plans are and it makes the buildup seem worth it.  We also see that Dracula's groveling servant Clifford Graves has survived the shipboard explosion on which Dracula left him to die.  Graves was rescued and nurtured back to life by Dr. Sun's minions.  In exchange, he has provided Sun with all he knows of Dracula and his operations.

Along with learning Dr. Sun's plans, we also learn more of Rachel Van Helsing's past.  We learn that while Dracula was indeed killed by Abraham Van Helsing (one of the characters of Bram Stoker's Dracula), he soon returned and revenged himself on Van Helsing and his descendants.  No one seems to hold a grudge like Dracula as we see time and time again throughout the series.

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