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When I’m old and decrepit I too want a wheelchair with side-firing vampire-killing darts – The Tomb of Dracula #57

January 2, 2011

I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to claims such as this title’s, that it’s “Comicdom’s #1 Fear Magazine.” I’m susceptible to being scared by movies and even by straight print books, but no comic has ever managed to truly give my the willies. Something about the combination of words and pictures renders scares inert.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate an ambitious little story well told.

“The Forever Man” was put together by Marv Wolfman (a man whose name is either incredibly appropriate or inappropriate for this title, depending on how you look at it) Gene Colan and Tom Palmer, and tells the tale of a man who, in 1792 India, learns of his past and future lives and his ultimate terminus:

We then see his various lives and the always violent ways that he meets his (temporary) end — duels, fights over cards, wars, safes falling on his head… Well, not the last one, but you get the idea. Then we come to his current Boston insurance salesman self, a gent by the name of Gideon Smith. The insurance biz seems to be a secure line of work, one that will keep him out of harm’s way.

Then one winter night he’s hit by a car. Oops.

In a parallel story, Dracula is rummaging around Boston (ulp!) of the present, looking for someone to feed on. He drops onto a young girl, but his meal is interrupted by a couple of policemen. He does not take kindly to this:

Dracula gets his revenge, but not before the cop manages to badly burn his face with a cross and render him unconscious.

This sets up this rather nice reveal as Gideon wakes up in his hospital bed:

Is it customary to let burn victims stay in the clothes that they were admitted in?

When the doctors finally remove the bandages, Mr. Smith freaks out. That face! Dracula then sucks some of the doctors’ blood to regain his strength and moves to make his escape. Then the coincidences really start to pile up:

Yes, the vampire hunters are in the same hospital. So did Quincy Harker’s darts work?:

“I’m comin’, ‘Lizbeth!”

Dracula returns to finish the job on Gideon Smith:

The cross causes Drac to turn tail and run (or flap his wings), and we’re left with this final look at Gideon:

I’m tempted to point out that he wasn’t actually killed by “the dead man,” but it’s my New Year’s resolution to not quibble as much. We’ll see how long that lasts. I guess we could interpret this as a final “mental” death, so I’ll let it slide.

I liked this issue. It had a Tales from the Darkside feel to it that I really dug, with elements from the Tomb of Dracula universe grafted onto the the story of the Forever Man. It had that Reese’s chocolate/peanut butter combo thing going for it. It works.

I’ve made no secret of my love for Gene Colan’s work, and no title is more associated with his name than this one. He (and Palmer — almost) worked the entire run of the series, and while in lesser hands such familiarity could lead to ruts and repetition, in Colan’s it spawns a greater aptitude and facility with the characters and their environs. The quality of this issue, much nearer to the end of the series than the start, certainly backs that up. Supernatural horror was Colan’s wheelhouse, and this title was his wheelhouse’s wheelhouse. Wolfman deserves his due as well, even if Dracula’s bombastic fulminations occasionally have him sounding more like Snidely Whiplash than a dignified Count.

And now it’s time to go plan my future cherried out wheelchair.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2011 5:33 pm

    That is good art. Say what you will about the script but that’s good art like we don’t see anymore.

    • January 5, 2011 6:49 pm

      Sadly, Colan’s style is something that’s vanishing like some of his ethereal depictions. It just doesn’t fit into the clean-cut, glossy groove of modern corporate-owned comics, and that makes me a little bit sad.

  2. August 13, 2011 10:02 am

    man, that fortune teller got it wrong, and I suspect that guy with the scar will go on to make a badass vampire hunter.

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