Saturday 19 March 2011

Tomb of Dracula #60.

Tomb of Dracula #60, Gene Colan, the death of Janus

Anyone who's ever seen a Hammer horror movie knows full well that things rarely end happily for everyone's favourite Transylvanian. And that's certainly true here as Dracula's attempts to play happy families has died with the death of his newly born son Janus, accidentally shot by Anton Lupeski, the head of the Satanists' church Dracula's taken over in his quest for world domination.

After killing the killer, Dracula spends the rest of the issue in a state of demented soul-searching, even if he has no soul to search. In his fit of rage, he looks back on his life and its failures and the fact that all his descendants, including his own daughter, have never sought anything but his death.

Able to bear no more, Dracula sets out to kill himself by being hit by lightning. But the attempt fails and he finishes the issue vowing to defeat the forces of virtue that he blames for his plight.

But, in the graveyard, things are afoot. It seems that, thanks to Dracula's wife Domini, Janus' death may not be a long-lasting one at all.

Tomb of Dracula #60, Gene Colan, the death of Janus

Writer Marv Wolfman continues to steer the strip away from the good-guy fights bad-guy formula that'd always served Marvel well, instead moving things ever further into the realms of tenebrous soap opera.

But, for all that, the issue's completely dominated by Gene Colan's art which has a frenetic energy that means characters often become little more than abstract shapes or amalgams of seemingly half completed light and shade. Dracula flies around, flings himself around, flings others around and is battered by a rain that looks like it could knock holes into your very soul itself, before he's finally blasted clean through by lightning.

The strip only had another ten issues to go, and the seeds of its demise were already being laid in this issue's editorial with Marv Wolfman announcing that, due to Gene Colan's other work commitments, the strip was switching to a bi-monthly schedule. But, while hindsight says the end was nigh, it doesn't show here. The title feels as vital as it's ever done, its pages practically an unleashed force of nature, meaning this issue does nothing to dissuade me from my notion that Tomb of Dracula really was the best American comic of the 1970s.


HannibalCat said...

T.O.D. is definitely one of my faves from the first flush of my Marvel reading; Gene Colan is without peer in his ability to draw realistic, individual people, buildings, vehicles and create atmosphere. His work really found its home here and in Howard the Duck.

Steve said...

Drac certainly was the ideal vehicle for Colan's talents.

tharg said...

Well said, as with Daredevil, nobody does flowing movement like Gene Colan. A true master at work.