Friday, October 18, 2013

The Devil You Know...


With Halloween a little less than two weeks away, you might want to sit your kids down and see if they'd rather forego the traditional door-to-door candy hunt and instead invite some friends over for a stay-at-home costume party. Because in a Marvel world, the door on which they knock could be opened by a vengeful demon of the night, and they could instead become the hunted:



While the cover of Tomb of Dracula #41 takes playful advantage of its timing with that of All Hallows' Eve, the events in the story are deadly serious. Doctor Sun, the floating brain with designs on world conquest (what else?), has brought to fruition his scheme to weaken Dracula in order to drain and adapt the vampire's hypnotic powers for his own use. Once Sun had no further need of him, he had Dracula staked and subsequently burned to ashes. Afterward, Rachel Van Helsing, Frank Drake, and Quincy Harker briefed the U.S. Army on Sun, and Rachel and Frank joined a platoon in raiding Sun's compound.

But Sun was prepared, and made use of his new hypnotic power to bring the entire platoon of soldiers under his sway, and Rachel and Frank were forced to withdraw. Now realizing that Dracula was their only hope to stop Sun's plans, they staged a daring raid on Sun's headquarters and made off with the urn which stored Dracula's remains.

Now this group of hunters, who have devoted most of their lives to finding and slaying Dracula, must wrestle with a moral dilemma. With Sun's plans advancing, and the villain now using his soldier thralls to recruit even more soldiers, they may now have to revive their greatest foe in order to stop this new enemy. And no matter who wins in the end--Doctor Sun, or Dracula--Quincy Harker and his group, and possibly the world, will lose.



Maybe I'm over-simplifying the solution, but I think I'd just pick up the phone and call the Avengers. Harker and his group could then take that urn, scatter those ashes to the Atlantic Ocean, and call it a day. And since both Gene Colan and Tom Palmer have worked on the Avengers book, we'd have one seamless and beautifully-drawn story. But apparently this little group doesn't see any other option than Dracula when sizing up the situation:



And so they scan old tomes and grimoires and find a way to revive one of the most sadistic, murderous creatures the world has ever known. Let's hope they're also crossing their fingers, since there's no guarantee that Dracula is going to join forces with them, or even spare their lives:



Yet, after hearing that it's the threat of Doctor Sun which has prompted his enemies to resurrect him, Dracula agrees to a temporary alliance, and leaves to restore his strength. But not before harshly twisting the knife:



It's indeed a no-win situation for this group of people, to a chilling degree: this demon has just assured them that he's on his way to kill someone, an innocent death that Harker and his group have all but signed off on by their actions. And if they thought they were feeling lousy about their choice before, let's jump ahead to when Dracula returns after finding and killing his victim, and Blade shows up to demand to know just what the hell these people were thinking:



Once Blade storms out, Dracula and the group make preparations for their assault. Yet we soon see that Dracula is only playing along with them. He really has no intention of letting them participate in his personal vengeance against Sun, or even surviving the night:



As we see Dracula assault the compound and its soldiers, as well as react to Sun's shouted orders to the men, we're reminded again that Dracula is no stranger to war, and has developed a certain philosophy for such things as taking the reins of power and the bloodletting of the innocent. And despite now being a vampire, it's clear that Dracula is still both ruthless as well as realistic:




And speaking of that ruthlessness, Dracula demonstrates that two can play the hypnosis game:



Yet that final battle between Dracula and Sun will have to wait until the next issue, because writer Marv Wolfman chooses this moment of confrontation to bring our trick-or-treaters into the fray. And the timing of their visit provides a humorous teaser to close this issue's story, as two merciless villains facing off against one another are stopped in their tracks by a simple, traditional doorbell ring:




Man, once word spreads around the neighborhood, Sun may find his compound toilet-papered in the morning.

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