TOMB OF DRACULA ISSUE NUMBER EIGHT

"THE HELLCRAWLERS"

Cover Date: May 1973

Writer: Marv Wolfman

Artist: Gene Colan & Ernie Chua

Colorist: Glynis Wein

Letterer: C. Jetter

Editor: Roy Thomas

Main Characters: Dracula, Clifton Graves, Frank Drake, Rachel Van Helsing, Taj, Quincy Harker, Edith Harker, and Dr. Mortte.

Synopsis: Wounded and poisoned by Quincy Harker, a dying Dracula turns to a vampire doctor named Heirich Mortte. Dracula blackmails the doctor into surrendering his blood bank to him by threatening to tell his human daughter that he is a vampire.  Mortte complies and administers a blood transfusion that saves Dracula's undead life.

Elsewhere, the Drac Pack run for their lives, chased by the mob of children hypnotically transformed into a homicidal mob by Dracula.  As they make their escape, a rejuevenated Dracula commands Dr. Mortte to turn over an invention of his known as the projector.  

The projector is a scientific device capable of transforming the dead into vampires.  Dracula tells Mortte that he will use the device to instantly create an army of undead to do his bidding.  Dr. Mortte begs him not to use his device but Dracula laughs at Mortte's pleas.  Dracula takes the projector to a cemetery where he will use it to create his undead army.

At the cemetery, Mortte's daughter learns that her parents were transformed into vampires and that Mortte used blood transfusions from his patients to feed his undead thirst rather than killing innocents.  Dracula prepares to test the projector and unleash his undead army on Mortte's daughter.

Elsewhere, the Drac Pack are cornered by the mob of children only to be rescued by Edith Harker.  Using a device of Harker's design, Edith unleashes a subsonic attack on the children, stunning them and snapping them out of Dracula's hypnotic thrall.

Elsewhere, Dracula transforms the cemetery's dead into an undead army.  The undead chase after Dr. Mortte's daughter, forcing Mortte into battle with the Lord of Vampires.  Mortte snatches the projector from Dracula and attempts to fly away but Dracula quickly catches him and sinks his fangs into Mortte, draining him of precious blood. During the battle, Mortte drops the projector and it shatters against the ground.  The source of their transformation destroyed, the undead army returns to the dead, turned into dust.  Mortte plummets to the ground and is impaled on a sharp wooden fence, redeemed by denying Dracula the use of his projector.

NOTES: This issue marked Marv Wolfman's second issue as TOD scribe and saw some interesting if not strange developments.  First, we see that not all vampires are evil.  Dr. Mortte has apparently survived for some time without feasting on human victims.  While his deceitful use of human blood is immoral, it is preferable to the killing of innocents.

Second we have the first battle between vampires.  Dr. Mortte and Dracula transform themselves into giant bats and battle in the skies.  Dracula defeats Mortte by draininghis blood but it is not clear if this is enough to kill Mortte or if his impalement on a wooden fence is what does him in.

Dracula must be somewhat delerious from Quincy Harker's poison darts as his plan for using the projector to create an undead army does not jibe with future issues where Dracula realizes he must keep some part of humanity intact in order to have a source of blood.  Of course this is only Marv Wolfman's second issue and his vision for Dracula was only beginning.

In this issue we see that poison can affect Dracula although again, it is not clear whether the poison will kill Dracula or merely weaken him and cause considerable pain.  

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