December 11, 2010

Ye Olde School Cafe’: Essential Tomb of Dracula vol. 1 pt 10

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Written by: Billy
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Hey everyone, welcome back to this week’s edition of Ye Olde School Café! In this week’s column, we’ll be taking one last look at The Tomb of Dracula, and boy is it a doozy. We’ll see Dracula go up against another force of nature in Werewolf By Night, A.K.A. Jack Russell. This crossover only lasted two issues (TOD #18 and WWBN #15), but it was horror heaven for anyone that loves these two characters. Let’s get right to the action!

In issue #18, we see Jack Russell and his new love interest, Topaz, on a train to Transylvania. Jack is going back to his family’s roots in search of his father’s diary, and hopefully a cure for his curse! The two talk briefly and then share a passionate kiss as the train nears the station. Not very far from that same location, we see Dracula in his castle rejoicing about being home and back where he belongs and feeling most powerful. He recounts his days as a human and how his wife Maria was taken from him when she was brutally murdered. As this is happening, we see Quincy Harker finding Blade in that cave where Dracula left him for dead. Just as Quincy is about to stake Blade, we switch back to Jack and Topaz.

Jack and Topaz make their way to an inn and ask about a room. As Jack is trying to set it up, some drunk tries to hit on Topaz. This infuriates Jack and he punches the guy for his trouble. The drunk vows revenge for this, but Jack and Topaz just go to their room. Jack tells Topaz to lock the door because it’s a full moon tonight. She tells him not to worry because she can control the beast again, just like she did before. She has been by Jack’s side ever since he rescued her from a mystic named Taboo. As the night gets further along, the drunk decides it’s time for his revenge. He enters the room with knife in hand, confident he’ll get what he wants. But after the door swings open, he realizes he’s in over his head. Jack is fully changed into the wolf and attacks the lowly drunk. The man tries to run away, but Jack pounces on him out in the street. As Jack is chasing down the drunk, Topaz is surprised by Dracula, who has flown in for bite. He wants to drain her, but feels something invading his mind. As he pauses, Jack then jumps on him, but Dracula tosses him off and flies away from the confrontation.

Next we see Dracula swoop down and drain some bystander of her blood. He’s fueling up for a rematch with Jack and satiating his own sadistic and bodily needs all at once. The next morning, Jack and Topaz enter the castle that Jack’s family resided in many years ago. Jack is searching for his father’s diary because he believes it contains the secret to reversing the family curse of lycanthropy. It contains many strange writings from another book called The Darkhold as well. Jack recounts the story of his father’s curse, as well as his demise. The two youths stumble upon a secret chamber in the house that has a telescope in it. The device is fixated on a neighboring castle. Castle Dracula, to be exact! Jack tells Topaz he’s going to investigate it because it obviously held a high importance to his father. Dracula then returns to his castle and starts to rant and rave about how he’s going to get revenge against all that have plotted to stop him. As he’s bantering on, he notices Jack and Topaz heading towards his abode. Dracula changes into a bat, and descends down onto them. Dracula grabs Topaz and takes off with her. Jack immediately changes to the wolf and follows them into the castle.

Once inside the castle, it’s on for these two combatants. Jack quickly dives on Dracula and starts to slash away at him. Dracula is no slouch, though, and defends himself. He eventually gets the upper hand against Jack, and when Topaz tries to help, she gets belted across the room for her trouble. Dracula then exclaims that he has other plans for Topaz, so he intends on feasting on the blood of a werewolf! He tries to put the bite on Jack, but gets thrown off instead. As Dracula gets ready to strike again, he feels something clawing at his mind again. Dracula decides discretion is the better part of valor and retreats. Jack grabs him, and throws him off the balcony. As he changes into a bat, Dracula then sees a girl walking in the nearby woods and drains her for a recharge.

In the following scene, we watch as a helicopter begins to close in on Castle Dracula. The two occupants are none other than Frank Drake and Rachel van Helsing. The two vampire hunters are searching for their nemesis in hopes of putting him down permanently. Dracula sees this, and flies right into the cockpit and attacks Frank. This tussle causes the helicopter to crash into the mountainside. A few hours later, Jack wakes up with Topaz by his side. He can’t remember how he got back to his father’s castle, but he does remember that they were looking at his father’s diary the night before. They read about how his ancestor battled and then killed Dracula  many years ago. Then they read on to find out that a woman named Lydia was discovered in castle Dracula and subsequently set free by this same ancestor. Little did he know that she was in fact a werewolf herself, and she bit him.

As Jack and Topaz read on, Frank and Rachel are swiftly attacked by Dracula. He then makes his way to their helicopter and smashes the controls so there can be no escape. As he is disabling the controls, the moon rises once again. At this time, Jack actually seeks out the Count for another round of brawling. Topaz keeps her distance this time, though, so Dracula can’t use her against Jack. Dracula then swats Jack away and spots the book. He commands Topaz to give it to him and she does. Her powers were so focused on Jack, she left herself open to a mental assault by Dracula. As he clutches the book, suddenly an arrow pierces it. Rachel and Frank have made their way to the fight and want to put an end to it. While Dracula is trying to fight off Frank and Rachel, Jack leaps on him from behind and tries to tear his head off. Dracula, realizing he’s out numbered, takes off in a fit of rage after Frank and Rachel, who have obtained the book during the fight. This leaves Jack and Topaz alone in the woods, wondering what their next move will be…The End.

Let me just say that words cannot describe the job that Wolfman and Colan did on this title. If you take the time period that these stories were written in, and also the fact that this series ran for 70  issues, when read in the Essentials format, these stories are nothing short of amazing. Every little twist and turn feels real when read. The books sometimes are stand alone stories, but there were a few arcs that lasted a while (Dr. Sun, Deacon Frost). Even the books that were stand alone seem like a trade paperback worth of reading. The many guest appearances is something else I really love about this title as well. Werewolf by Night, Frankenstein, Hannibal King, Dr. Strange, Brother Voodoo, Silver Surfer, and the list goes on. Kudos to Wolfman, Colan, Palmer, and Gil Kane (a ton of the classic covers) for treating the world to the best adaptation of the story of Dracula!

Be right back here next week, as I shift gears from horror and dive right into a series by one of the best ever – Jack Kirby! Prepare yourself for the coming of The Eternals!

Billy Dunleavy



  1. You can NEVER get enough Gene Colan!

  2. Billy

    @Speech- Gentlemen Gene is my hero! 😀

  3. This was the only time I actually read Dracula comics when I was a kid. Man, I wish I still had all of those books 🙁

  4. Billy

    @Speech- Next con, pick up the Essentials man. They usually only run about $5 a pop but are worth their weight in gold! 😀

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by billy dunleavy, Gid Freeman. Gid Freeman said: Ye Old School Cafe has more Gene Colan greatness over at @ComicAttack #comics #vampires […]

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