October 16, 2010

Ye Olde School Cafe’: Essential Tomb of Dracula vol. 1 pt 2

Welcome back to another week here in Ye Olde School Cafe’! This week we’ll continue our walk through volume one of the Essential Tomb of Dracula! Last week, we saw the reanimation of the Count by a fool named Clifton Graves, and his best friend’s girlfriend payed the ultimate price for that indiscretion. This week we’ll see the repercussions of the Count being brought back to life. (Note: Issue #2 is Gerry Conway writing, but Archie Goodwin has duties on issue #3.)

As one man, named Frank Drake, returns to Castle Dracula, he remembers his friend Clifton telling him of how they could parlay the old castle into a gold mine. Frank and a hired hand then descend to the castle depths to retrieve something of importance. They mean to steal the coffin of Dracula while he hunts, so that when he returns, he’ll come looking for his missing resting place. The trap seems well thought out, but before they can really get anything accomplished, they hear a noise below them. They open up a certain hatch and find Clifton trying to claw his way out. After they help him out and explain the plan, we then see a young girl being stalked, then screaming for her life as Dracula siphons the blood right out of her body. Her screams are heard by some nearby people who fear the worst.

After the commotion, the Count then enters the office of a certain doctor living in the area (one thing you’ll find out is that Dracula usually has normal humans doing some of his dirty work in case of emergency). The doctor welcomes Dracula in and tells him he’ll help him any way he can. After a few pleasantries, Dracula then tells his old friend that he means to pay him back for betraying him to his killers years earlier. Dracula then proceeds to drain the life right out of the good doctor.

At the airport, Clifton and Frank watch the coffin being loaded into a storage area, and then settle in for the night at the nearby hotel. Frank is startled by a noise in the bathroom and proceeds to investigate. At first, he sees nothing, but then pulls back the shower curtain to reveal his girlfriend Jeanie. She begs Frank to touch her, but then he remembers what she’s become. He uses a crucifix on her and she screams loudly. Outside, Dracula hears this, but remains steadfast in the “plan” the two have for revenge. Dracula then notices a pretty girl walking into a pub and follows her. Once inside, he charms the young lady into conversation, but then some of the local tough guys try to rough him up. Dracula easily slaps the drunken fools around, then tells the girl he wants to show her something in the alley. Dracula then sinks his teeth into the tramp’s neck, and she falls to the ground. The pub crowd comes running and sees Dracula turn into a bat and fly off.

After flying in through an open window, Dracula starts to reveal his plan. In the other room, Clifton gets mesmerized by Jeanie and unties her bonds. He then drugs Frank’s coffee and Dracula appears in the room. Jeanie then tries to bite Clifton, but Frank wakes up in time to stop her with his crucifix. The holy symbol won’t stop a hypnotized Clifton though, so Jeanie commands him to attack Frank. Frank punches Clifton in the face, but drops his crucifix amid the fight. Dracula takes full advantage of this and kicks the crap out of Frank. Jeanie then turns to try and bite Clifton, but then Frank grabs a piece of broken furniture and stabs Jeanie with it. Dracula turns into a bat and flees because the sun is starting to rise. Jeanie is left writhing in pain in front of the huge window, so when the sun rises she turns to dust, begging Frank to save her all the while.

Next, we see Frank Drake climbing over the guard rail on a bridge, intent on taking his own life after this latest set of circumstances. Just as Frank starts his swan dive to oblivion, he is grabbed by the ankles by a behemoth of a man named Taj Nital. He is the companion of a woman named Rachel van Helsing. The two have come looking for Frank after they read a newspaper article chronicling the sale of Castle Dracula (in issue #2, it was revealed Frank sold the castle). We then see Clifton in a local pub shaking like a leaf. The bartender tells him it’s closing time, but Clifton begs the man to let him stay. The man then tells Clifton to get lost, and then throws him out into the dark, foggy night. Almost immediately, Dracula appears and Clifton screams in terror.

Later, we see Clifton at the storage facility where the coffin was left. The fellow at the desk tells him to check with the night porter about the “box” in question. The night porter takes him downstairs to the box. Once down there, the two men try to move the crate, but the weight is too much for the drunken porter and he drops it. Gold coins spill out onto the floor and the porter tries to grab one of them. The coin comes to a rest at a pair of feet, and when he looks up, he sees Dracula himself. He tells the porter his reward for helping is imminent. As the porter screams, Frank, Rachel, and Taj enter the storage area. They head downstairs but initially see nothing. As Frank opens the coffin lid, he sees Clifton inside it. Dracula quickly appears and the fight is on. First, Clifton smacks the cross out of Frank’s hands, and then Dracula senses Taj nearby and throws him across the room. Rachel is unimpressed though, and proceeds to fire away at the count with her trademarked crossbow. Dracula then changes into a bat and Clifton drags the coffin outside the door. Dracula locks the door behind them and they make their get away. Meanwhile, the desk clerk has called the cops and they get there just in time to find the dead porter, with Frank and his gang the only ones in the room.

The vampire hunters are trying to explain to Scotland Yard’s Inspector Chelm that it was Dracula. Of course, he laughs them off, but Rachel tells him that if they go to the morgue in three days, the corpses will rise up and become vampires themselves. Meanwhile, Clifton is transporting Dracula to the location of the person who purchased the castle. After the three days have passed, the hunters and inspector Chelm are at the morgue, waiting for something to happen. All of a sudden, a corpse rises from a table, with newly acquired fangs and a thirst for blood. Inspector Chelm is astounded, but then Taj, Frank, and Rachel dispose of the vampires the old fashioned way and they gain the trust of Chelm.

The scene then turns to an old mansion, where an old woman talks with her butler and her solicitor. The solicitor, Mr. Langston, pays a visit to Ilsa Strangway to try and tell her to stop wasting her money. You see, Ilsa was a beautiful model years ago, but her good looks have abandoned her with the passing years. She tried doctors and every other means of science to revive her younger looks, but with no results. She then decided to use magic and sorcery to try and get the job done. She has wasted a ton of money on different occult artifacts, but now she thinks she has found the answer in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Langston tells her that the book is “supernatural poppycock,” but she won’t listen and throws him out. On his way out, he notices a certain black mirror that chills him to his very soul. Soon after, Dracula ascends to her balcony, but she realizes he cannot enter a residence to which he hasn’t been invited. He tells her that she must pay for buying his castle, but she then tells him that she thinks they can offer each other something better than revenge, and she invites him into her home.

Well, that’s it for this week, but tune in next week for the secret behind the black mirror in “Through a Mirror Darkly”!

Billy Dunleavy


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