Saturday, July 3, 2010

Comics Review - July 3

The Death of Dracula
Marvel One Shot

This one-shot is the preview of the big cross-over event of the coming year in the Marvel Universe. Dracula looks completely different from his previously extremely consistent classic model sheet. Evening wear, widows peak and opera cape have been replaced with an albino pony-tale and cheesy fantasy armor.

It's not an improvement, but he isn't in the picture for long. As others have said, its basically a Mafia story. The Godfather gets assassinated and the five families descend into plotting, jockeying for power and open inter vampire clan warfare.

We've never seen this gathering of different clans of vampires before, but its explained it happens once a century, and now that Dracula has been murdered the assembled hosts of the undead have turned their sights on the rest of the Marvel universe. If you were a vampire in a world of unimaginably powerful superheroes, wouldn't you turn them into undead thralls?

The Tomb of Dracula
TPB collecting issues 1-12 of the 70's classic

Doubtless timed to cash in on the big Marvel vampire crossover in the works, a new color reprint delivers the first 12 issues of the Marvel horror classic. It's been reprinted multiple times in the last few years from black and white phone book sized economy editions to deluxe hard cover collections. This is an affordable but attractive middle ground color paperback collection.

Gene Colan has the art duties from the first issue, while the writer changed multiple times until Marv Wolfman stepped in on issue seven beginning a partnership with Colan on the book that lasted seven years. It was the longest running series starring a villain in comics history and deserved it.

The book featured a motley crew of vampire fighters including Frank Drake, one of Dracula's descendants determined to defeat the family curse, Abraham Van Helsing's grand-daughter and in issue ten, a day walking half man half vampire named Blade.

Blade, of course, went on to make Marvel beau-coup movie bucks. Wolfman went to court to try to get a taste of the movie money for creating the character but lost and was largely blackballed in the industry afterward.

It is to be hoped he at least got a share from this latest collected edition of his work.

Captain Swing #2

The long awaited second issue of Warren Ellis' Victorian steam punk electric pirate series is out and reveals that Ellis has created an inter-connected world of his Avatar books. Captain Swing is the ancestor of Doktor Sleepless, while his bold policeman prisoner and possible ally is apparently the great-great grandfather of combat magician William Gravel.

He seems to be treating his Avatar cosmology more like a darker echo of Alan Moore's genre mash up the League of Extraordinary Gentleman than the tedious merger of soap opera and pro wrestling that established superhero universes evoke.

The story itself, is about a crazed but charismatic super-genius turning to elaborate science piracy to try to stop those who would keep magic and scientific miracles in the hands of the elites and follows the themes of his other genre fusion series Planetary. Recommended.

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