Wednesday, May 5, 2010

17. The Essential Tomb of Dracula

Plot Summary
Dracula has lofty dreams of taking over the world by turning the living into an undead army who will obey his every beck and call. Marvel comics revives the infamous Dracula character in this collection of vampire stories in The Essential Tomb of Dracula. This Essential volume includes 25 original Tomb of Dracula issues, as well as an issues of Werewolf By Night and Giant-size Chillers. In each issue Dracula is confronted by a team of vampire slayers who seek to destroy him before his plans come to fruition. Dracula's plans for world domination are repeatedly foiled by the slayers, but not before he can claim a new victim or two. The group of slayers consists of Dr. Rachel Van Helsing, descendant of Dracula's Frank Drake, the wheel chair ridden Dr. Quincy Harker, the exceptionally strong Taj Nital, and the urban sensation known as Blade. Each of these slayers bring a unique skill to the table in their quest to destroy Dracula and the vampire community.

Critical Evaluation
Marvel Comics' Tomb of Dracula is a chilling series of horror fiction that deserves its place alongside other great Dracula stories that came before it. The first couple of issues in the series serve as back story and are ultimately forgettable until writer Marv Wolfman got involved and put his signature macabre stamp on the series. Wolfman's first issue, "Night of the Death Stalkers," details Dracula's plan to use an army of children to thwart the group of troublesome slayers who consistently seek to destroy him. Dracula uses his mental power of persuasion to control the minds of a group of young boys, and turns them into a vicious pack of weapon toting murderers. This chilling story arc also introduces the character Blade, who goes on to become one of the most infamous vampire slayers in the history of modern vampire fiction.

The horrifying "Death Stalkers" storyline features the detailed and intense illustrations of artist Gene Colan. Colan turns the blank expressions on the faces of the controlled young boys into the kinds of images that nightmares are made of. What Tomb of Dracula lacks in gore it makes up in haunting imagery. Colan's grotesque portrayal of the undead and his use of shadows, set the mood for Wolfman's distinctively ominous storylines. The lettering also sets an eerie mood using fonts reminiscent of the kinds used in classic horror films. The marvel style of storytelling popular in the 70's is not missed in the issues of Tomb of Dracula. Characters narrate their actions before committing them, and dialogue at times verges on the hokey. Despite the changes that have been made to comic book storytelling since Tomb of Dracula's publication in the 70's, the issues are still entertaining to read and surprisingly scary. The depiction of women in the series is not acceptable by today's standards, with Dracula often commenting on the feeble minded nature and inferiority of women. This flaw doesn't overshadow the wonderful amalgamation of chilling storylines, art, and text composition that bring Dracula to life in the masterful Marvel way.

Reader's Annotation
Dracula is back and ready to take over the world, if only there weren't a group of devoted vampire slayers to stop him in his illustrated tracks. Marvel comics has once again taken a legendary series and re-released it in an Essential volume for fans of horror comics and Dracula himself.

Author Information
Tomb of Dracula writer Marv Wolfman is a comic book legend. From the time he was a child in the early 50's, Wolfman has been a die-hard comic book fan. This devoted interest in comic books is what led him to pursue a career as a writer. Wolfman's first job in the comic book industry came as an editor for Marvel Comics. Wolfman would eventually trade his editing responsibilities for writing, and would go on to create some of the most memorable characters in the Marvel and DC universes. Wolfman is credited with creating several important comic book characters, including: Blade the vampire slayer, The Teen Titans, Nova, Bullseye, and Black Cat.

Wolfman also penned the storyline for the important DC series Crisis on Infinite Earths, which celebrated DC comics 50th anniversary. This groundbreaking series rewrote the entire history of DC comics, and in doing so, helped to bring unity to previous continuity issues. Wolfman's characters and comics have been adapted for television and film, and he continues to write for comic book fans today. He is expecting to release an all new Teen Titans graphic novel by Christmas of 2010.

graphic novel, horror

Curriculum Ties
comic history

Book Talking Ideas
Discuss Dracula history.
Describe the "Death Stalkers" storyline.
How has Dracula changed through literature and cinema?

Reading Level
Grades 7+

Challenge Issues
violence, gore, sexism

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the book in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection
After reading some fantasy graphic novels for my author/genre study paper, I knew that I wanted to read more non-traditional comic book genres. The library had a collection of Dracula comics and I had never read horror in the graphic novel format before. The experience proved to be both interesting and entertaining. With the popularity of vampire fiction today because of titles like Twilight, this collection of older vampire fiction might find a new use.

No comments:

Post a Comment