Monday, June 13, 2005

Today's Retro-review is: DRACULA LIVES! #2

A few weeks ago I reread and reviewed the debut B&W issue of 1973's Dracula Lives! and felt that it was a pretty weak effort. Well, I can't say that about issue #2, this one's a keeper!

The cover is credited to Penalva. I don't recognize the name, but it's a striking painting. Dracula seems to come right out of the shadows, about to pounce on the yellow-bikini wearing blonde.

Inside we're treated to 5 stories, a text piece and an editorial and the first story, "That Dracula May Live Again!" is well worth the price of this issue alone. This 13 page tale is written by Marv Wolfman and illustrated by the one and only Neal Adams.
His pencils are extremely striking in the B&W and wash look, especially in the larger than normal pages

By now everyone's familiar with Stoker's story, but little is known of how Vlad became a vampire. With this story, we find out how. After falling in battle to the Turks, Dracula, barely alive, is taken captive and given to a gypsy woman who supposedly can save his life. She does so, by turning him into a vampire.

Lord Turac, the Turk leader, not knowing how Dracula was saved, takes him back to his castle where he uses the threat of the lives of his wife and son to do his bidding. While advancing on Maria, Turac inadvertently kills her. This enrages Dracula who frees himself of his bonds and makes Turac his first ever vampire victim.

This is an excellent tale with vintage Adams artwork.

The next story is a six page reprint, "Vampires Drink Deep!". There's no writing credit but the artwork is by one of the best inkers in the business, Joe Sinnott. The story itself is a neat little piece about vampires and greed with a surprise final panel and beautiful Sinnott ink work.

After a text piece, "Who is Bram Stoker and why is he saying those terrible things about me?" by Chris Claremont (which was, ok. a bit over-written, I thought though) is an 11 page story titled "The Terror that Stalked Castle Dracula".

Much like the first story of this issue, it's a very enjoyable tale and covers ground that beforehand hadn't been covered much. During WW2 did the Nazi's ever encounter Dracula?

The creative team (the plot by Steve Gerber, script by Tony Isabella, layout by Jim Starlin and finishes by Syd Shores) do a nice job with a story on the outset, ("Nazi Vampires?") may look silly but is far from it. The contrast of the Nazi invasion of Europe and the soldiers taking over Castle Dracula are very striking. Who are the truer monsters, the stalking vampire or the inhuman Nazi's? Another good story!

"One Corpse One Vote" a six page reprint by Stan Lee and Fred Kida follows. It's nicely drawn but the story's ending is very imparent from the first panel.

To complete the issue is a 14 page feature, "The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Gene Colan and Dick Giordano. This is a continuation, of sorts, to "To Walk Again in Daylight" the final story in Dracula Lives! #1. That story I found pretty weak, but this part is much better.

Dracula, against his wishes, has been brought to New Orleans, where he's to be used to grant immortality to the famous Voodoo Woman Marie Laveaus and her devoted great grand son. Needless to say Dracula isn't too happy to be manipulated in this way, though as the story turns out he wasn't the one who was really being used.

I especially enjoyed seeing Colan inked by Giordano. It's not often that you get a chance to see these two pros working together.

This was a very strong and well done issue, much better than the first. The original stories were very good and even the reprints were fun. Overstreet lists a near mint copy at $40, while that might be a bit too steep, if you can find an issue at a decent price pick one up, you'll enjoy the read.

Next Monday stop by as I review the debut issue of Marvel's fourth monster magazine from 1973, Vampire Tales #1.

No comments: