The Tomb of Dracula


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The Tomb of Dracula

(pop culture)

The Tomb of Dracula is second only to Vampirella as the most successful vampire-oriented comic book series of all time. Vampires were banned from comic books in 1954 by the Comics Code, but a revised code in 1971 allowed vampires if they were presented in a manner similar to the vampires of classic gothic literature. Marvel Comics responded to the change immediately by resurrecting Dracula and setting his new adventures in the 1970s. A familiar cast, composed of the descendants of the characters of Bram Stoker‘s 1897 novel, were assembled to fight him. Reflecting the changing times, a major female character, Rachel Van Helsing, was an active vampire fighter armed with a crossbow. Blade, the Vampire Slayer, an African American, also joined the team.

The Tomb of Dracula characters were soon integrated into the Marvel Comics alternate world. Dracula, Blade, and Hannibal King, another original character intro duced in the series, began to appear in various Marvel titles (Dr. Strange, Marvel Premiere, Frankenstein, and Thor) and characters from other titles appeared in The Tomb of Dracula (Werewolf by Night and the Silver Surfer). The Tomb of Dracula was developed under the guidance of writer Marv Wolfman, who created the new characters, and artist Gene Colan. It would be reprinted in England under the title Dracula Lives (in black-and-white), translated into Spanish and Italian, and inspire a Japanese feature-length animated video.

It was finally cancelled after seventy issues, though it found a brief continuance for six issues in a black-and-white magazine format. One story in each issue continued the Dracula saga. However, Wolfman and Colan moved on to other projects and through the 1980s, Marvel lost interest in horror fiction. Only in the 1990s was a new attempt to integrate horror into the Marvel Universe attempted. During the early 1990s, Wolf-man and Colan revived the story line from their successful series in a revived four-part set, The Tomb of Dracula (1991–92), from Marvel subsidiary Epic Comics. The story picked up the life of Frank Drake and Blade the Vampire Slayer a decade after the killing of Dracula at the end of the original series (and the demise of all Marvel vampires in 1983). Dracula had made his initial return several years previously in Dr. Strange Sorcerer Supreme (No. 10) and now wished to take revenge on Drake and his loved ones.

Subsequently, in 1992, as vampires were enjoying what proved to be a temporary return to the Marvel Universe, various individual issues of the original series were reprinted as one-shots under the titles Requiem for Dracula, The Savage Return of Dracula, and The Wedding of Dracula. The Tomb of Dracula one-shots heralded the return of several characters from The Tomb of Dracula, including Blade, Hannibal King, and Frank Drake, who were given new life as partners in a present-day Boston detective agency. They were known as The Nightstalkers, an anti-vampire/anti-demonic force team. Their adventures appeared in 17 issues, in which they worked with other like-minded crusaders collectively called the Midnight Sons. At the end of The Nightstalkers Issue No. 17, Drake and King were killed. Blade survived in a new series for several years, has made subsequent appearances in other Marvel titles, and was featured in the three Blade movies starring Wesley Snipes. In 1998 Hannibal King was brought back from the dead for some additional interaction with Dracula, including an appearance in the third of the Blade movies.

From 2003 to 2005, Marvel comics reprinted all the Tomb of Dracula stories in black and white in four large volumes as part of its “Essential” reprint series, the Essential Tomb of Dracula.

Sources:

Essential Tomb of Dracula. Vols. 1–4. New York: Marvel, 2003–2005.
The Tomb of Dracula. No. 1–70. New York: Marvel Comics, 1971–79.
The Tomb of Dracula. No. 104. New York: Epic Comics, 1991–1992.
References in periodicals archive ?
However, when that project stalled he opted for Blade, a character who featured in Marvel's The Tomb of Dracula instead.
The Tomb of Dracula series ran for 80 issues with the Lord of Vampires battling vampire hunters Dr Quincy Harker and Rachel van Helsing as well as hordes of other supernatural fiends.
Blade ( a human with vampire genes ( was created by writer Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan in 1973 and appeared in the Tomb of Dracula series.