Welcome back, to another week of comics’ greatest stories, in Ye Olde School Café! Last time, we dove into a thriller starring Dr. Strange and one of his most dangerous foes, Dracula! Roger Stern, Dan Green, Steve Leialoha, Terry Austin, and others bring us this macabre tale that will only end when Dracula dies! This story takes place in Doctor Strange #60-62 (1983).
We first see one of Dracula’s minions gather some seedy types to do a job for some money. They soon find out that there will be no payment, but they will be enthralled by the dark lord instead! As this is happening, Dr. Strange uses his astral form to visit the last person to use the evil book, The Darkhold. He talks with the Scarlet Witch, and he convinces her that Dracula is coming for the book, and will kill anyone in his way. She agrees to go to the Avengers Mansion, where it is being stored at the moment. She also calls Jarvis to warn them that something evil is afoot and that they are on their way.
Strange arrives at the mansion (still in his astral form), and Dracula readies his army for the assault on the mansion. Strange locates the book, and then returns home to join with his body, and also meet up with Hannibal King, but before they can even game plan, the Orb of Agamotto alerts them that Avengers Mansion is under assault. The sheer number of assailants overpowers the mansion’s defenses and the doors are breached. Vermin, also under the command of Dracula, find their way in as well, and disable the inner defenses. Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) uses her photonic powers to thwart the possessed group, and Strange and King show up not a moment too soon to help out.
As this war is going on, Dracula uses the distraction to enter the mansion through the river, and then the subterranean level. The Scarlet Witch arrives as well (by cab?) to help mop up the underlings, but then they realize that Dracula is nowhere to be found, so he must have found a way in and be close to his prize. As Dracula enters the lower levels, he’s confronted by Strange. He then pivots to see another Strange, and then yet another. Three versions of Strange are preventing him from getting his hands on the Darkhold, but Dracula is not easily stopped. He quickly dispatches the three versions of Strange, who turn out to be King, Wanda, and Captain Marvel with an illusion to confuse Dracula. As he makes his way to the chamber where the book is hidden, it disappears right before his eyes, as Strange whisks it away to an unknown location. Dracula concedes that he’s lost this round, and after Wanda tells him that the other Avengers are on their way, he departs, fearing another confrontation with Thor (issues #332-333 of Thor’s solo series). Strange tells the others that they must head to the castle of Baron Mordo, for that is where the book now resides!
Strange realizes that he’ll need assistance in this battle, so he and King recruit Frank Drake and Blade to help with this war against Dracula. As they head out on a flight to Castle Mordo, Dracula uses his telepathic abilities (enhanced by the cult’s power) to reach out into the minds of his followers, and discovers where Strange and his band are heading. As Strange and company reach the castle, they are met by its mystic defenses. Animated suits of armor, swords that cut without anyone wielding them, and other magical props. The book seems as though it may be helping as well, but then Strange stops the threats with a wave of his hands. As they finish mopping up, they hear a jet crash nearby. They have a feeling that it is Dracula.
Strange seals the castle against anything except Dracula, and they wait for him. Strange is attempting to use a spell in the Darkhold to erase the plague of vampires from the entire Earth, and in the meantime, it’s up to Wong, Blade, Frank Drake, and Hannibal King to slow down the lord of vampires. Dracula appears, and easily knocks out Drake. He moves on to Blade, and typically he could offer some resistance, but now that Dracula is more powerful than ever (due to the cult’s powers being added to his), even he cannot offer up anything. Wong, then King, both also fall before him easily.
Dracula then moves into the chamber where Strange is with the Darkhold. Strange seems to be hypnotized by the book, and Dracula proceeds to touch it. Instantly, Dracula is transported to the astral plane, where he and Strange do battle. As they battle, the others join hands, and begin to recite the spell from the book. King is noticeably affected, and begins to waiver a bit. Dracula begins to weaken, and then he and Strange come back to the Earthly plane. Dracula cries out, and then disintegrates right before their eyes.
As King collapses, we see vampires all across the globe disintegrating where they stood (most notably Lilith). Back at the castle, King is losing his life. Strange tells the others not to worry, though, as he believes King will pull through. They theorize that King survived because he resisted drinking blood ever since he became a vampire years earlier. Hannibal King sees the sunrise for the first time in a long time.
Well, that’s it, what do you think? I personally loved this story and although it was obviously going to be undone someday, it still held some power. We all knew Dracula would return, as he always will, because when Bram Stoker created this character, it was something special! See you next time!