As I discuss the inspirations of DRACULA WORLD ORDER it was only a matter of time before I got to this one. Like so many influential works it’s not at the front of my mind when crafting ideas. Instead it’s something deep in the mental library, where my subconscious can rip out pages and piece them back together with hundreds of other texts and produce some strange tapestry. At the end of the process I get a better handle on the original work itself. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about TOMB OF DRACULA lately.
When the Marvel Essentials line got around to ToD it had already been built up for me by friends. Discovering the series in large black-and-white chunks brought both of its major assets to the fore: Gene Colan’s brilliantly moody artwork and Marv Wolfman’s ever-propulsive pulpy (which I always use as a compliment) plotting. What stands out the most to me now, and what I see as the influence on DWO, is that you have a long-running adventure where the antagonist and protagonists are given equally weight. Dracula must face the real consequence of immortality, that one is cursed with an ever-growing history where decisions can have epic consequences that last decades. He is plagued by Harker, Van Hesing, Drake, and Blade, the descendants of those he hurt (and in Drake’s case, his own descendant). Being undead means living with an extreme burden of history.
This symbiotic relationship, with both Dracula and the vampire hunters never rid of each other, led the book to explore all manners of scenarios and environments. A vampire community was built inside the Marvel universe. Other horror elements were also in play, such as a crossover with Jack Russell from WEREWOLF BY NIGHT and Dr. Sun, one of the characters that exemplifies this melding the horrific and superheroic.
I found in ToD the potential of stories about people who are bound to each other forever, and what happens when people both push against and give in to those boundaries in their own ways. I started the series mostly for the Gene Colan art, after all he draws the best women of all the early Marvel artists bar Romita, but I got so much more. I found an important lesson in crafting a wide-ranging narrative. It’s still a jolt to read.