Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

We've come to the end of our special Christmas-themed posts, and perhaps there's no better way of concluding this series than to celebrate Christmas Eve with the birth of a very special son.

Though this probably isn't the son who first comes to mind.

Shortly after Dracula's battle with Dr. Strange, the lord of vampires took control of a satanic church cult in order to expand his sphere of influence in the states:

When he revealed himself to the satanists who would be his new followers, they were involved in a ritual which would offer up one of their own, a woman named Domini, as Satan's bride. Yet, due to Dracula's timely arrival during the ceremony, as well as his display of his own powers, the gathering mistakingly believed Dracula to be their "Dark-Lord," Satan. And he decided to alter his plans accordingly, including taking Domini as his own.

Unexpectedly, Dracula's bond with Domini grew to the point where he came to care for her a great deal. And while the cult's high priest, Anton Lupeski, knew that Dracula was indeed not Satan, he realized that he could still make use of the vampire's relationship with Domini to enhance his own power base. And so another ritual was invoked--one that would implant a child within Domini, to be born on December 25.

And so we skip ahead nine months, to the eve before that very date. But forces are at work which might make this night anything but peaceful for the expectant father.

At first glance, the night before his child's birth seems one of contentment for Dracula, compared to having spent the prior months in various battles with Quincy Harker and his associates as well as the Silver Surfer:

It's curious to see Dracula preoccupied with thoughts of an heir, considering that he's immortal and will never need to cede his name or power to anyone. In fact, at a later christening ceremony (Satanic style) for the child, where Lupeski seeks to fire up the cultists with the notion that the child shall be their leader, Dracula is livid at Lupeski's obvious power play and angrily reminds everyone in no uncertain terms that it's Dracula who will be the center of power.

But, putting that aside for the moment, what of that cryptic wording about the night turning out differently than Dracula expects? We saw very similar wording the night the child was conceived, didn't we?

And we find one more piece of this puzzle, in the form of a strange but earnest request from Domini:

But the arrangements for Domini's delivery are unfortunately not the only preparations being made this night. Word has reached Harker's group of the imminent event, and their mission to end Dracula's existence remains as strong as ever.

Also, Lupeski is eager to eliminate Dracula so that his own plans for Domini and the child can proceed. And when Rachel Van Helsing decides to move on the church on her own, he sees an opportunity to accomplish just that, and offers her assistance that will help to meet his own ends.

It's not every father-to-be whose enemies converge on him when his wife is due to give birth--but it seems that all of our players are now in place for a very violent confrontation. At 10 p.m., after Rachel makes a call to her friends to let them know where Dracula is located, her hatred is such that she decides to attack Dracula without waiting for backup.

But when Dracula hears Domini cry out for him, he strategically retreats, surprising Rachel around a bend and brutally rendering her unconscious. And when he returns to tend to Domini, we discover another indication that this night is playing out in a way much differently than Dracula realizes.

It's just after 11:30 p.m. when Frank Drake and his group find Rachel, and they race in just as Domini is in mid-labor:

Once Dracula disposes of Blade and Rachel as well as Harker's loyal dog (at least for the moment), it's time for an almost laughable confrontation, as Frank is somehow under the impression that he's Dracula's most fearsome foe in a battle of equals.

Really, Frank needs to be thrown through a few more walls. And hopefully a few more after that. Maybe then the message will sink in that, in the company of Blade and Rachel and even Quincy, he's probably the LEAST threatening to Dracula and always has been. What was he thinking?

Anyway, when Rachel and the others regroup, it's midnight on the nose. And you know what that means:

Not that Dracula doesn't make a compelling argument for his attackers to depart--but it's surprising to see Rachel and the others indeed back off, given their earlier fierce determination to deal with Dracula. Still, when a cute little tyke like Dracula's newborn is in the line of fire, even Rachel must yield to her humanity. But, despite the peace that Dracula has found this Christmas, his carefully laid plans for both his son and his church may slip through his grasp.

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