Panels From Beyond the Grave #10

THE CURSE OF DRACULA (1 of 3, July 1998)

In the 90's, Dark Horse had their mitts on all manner of horror icons. They were licensed to use such properties as Alien, Predator, Godzilla, the genetically-altered harlot in Species (what do you mean she's not an icon?) and The Prince of Darkness himself...Dracula! Marvel had a crack at the sempiternal bloodsucker two decades prior. Even casual horror comic enthusiasts are familiar with The Tomb of Dracula, a reputable title that enjoyed a fruitful run under the auspices of writer Merv Wolfman. In 1998, Wolfman - along with Tomb artist Gene Colan - was approached by Dark Horse to revitalize the Count in a modern setting.

The result is The Curse of Dracula, a three-issue miniseries that looks to Bram Stoker's source material for inspiration. Gone are the hokey cliches of Tomb. Curse is more subdued, more mature, more sexual. Thankfully, Wolfman's prose is just as eloquent as it ever was, and Colan's artwork is just as stark. Curse sees Dracula as an infernal debutante, a charming devil who attends important parties and seduces important women. Don't get the wrong impression; he's still a monster at heart. His long-term goals involve spreading his "disease" across the barren expanses of Wisconsin. Actually, I'm not sure where this comic takes place, but Wisconsin sounds good.

Almost immediately, we are introduced to a stippled, disparate crew of vampire hunters. We have a blind chick, a brutish Russian assassin and some chap by the name of Van Helsing (grandson of the genuine article). I must say, Wolfman does a splendid job of developing his central cast members in thirty pages, give or take. This comic accomplishes everything that a first issue should accomplish. In addition, it goes out of its way to mollify gore goons. The last page is bubbling over with the red stuff, and if that wasn't enough, a vampire explodes at the halfway mark. C'mon, an exploding vampire! This shit sells itself!

I find it hard to believe that this title didn't spark interest in an ongoing series. I'm kicking myself for not following up on the rest of this story arc when I was a teenager. EBay, here I come! That would make for a great closing sentence, but I feel like I need to explain the perfect rating. I don't hand those out very often. As I've said before, I don't consider myself to be a comic expert, but in my humble opinion, this particular book clicks on all cylinders. I can't find any faults. Damn, now I can't think of an appropriate closing sentence. EBay, here I come?

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