Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Night-Staker!


For those of you who have ever tuned in episodes of the mid-'70s series Kolchak: The Night Stalker, it was just a year after the show ended when writer Marv Wolfman cooked up a clever story which paid homage to the dogged Carl Kolchak, using his own intrepid reporter:



As sometimes was the case with the television series, this story in Tomb of Dracula also finds our reporter, Paul Butterworth, frantically hammering out on his typewriter the grim details of the story he's been pursuing, with the murderer presumably on the way over to end his life.

But let's turn back the clock a little, where we find Butterworth on the beat for his newspaper, the Boston Bugle, encountering a string of crime scenes all involving young women being drained of blood. Unfortunately, like Kolchak, Butterworth is considered a pest by the local police, who are tight-lipped about any details involving the crime:



At first, Butterworth thinks this might all be the work of Michael Morbius, whom he'd met before. But, hearing an advertisement for an article by Harold H. Harold, a local writer who's ostensibly had dealings with none other than Dracula, Butterworth interviews him and begins to wonder if there might be some truth to his story. Suspicions which become reality when he picks up a police-band call and arrives to see a violent fight between the police and the vampire lord himself:



Fortunately, Butterworth was wearing a crucifix, and the sight of it forces Dracula to retreat. But the incident motivates him to follow up on a lead from Harold, pointing him in the direction of Quincy Harker and his group, who were recently involved in Dracula's battle with Doctor Sun. Yet Butterworth is going to find that, like his Hollywood predecessor, trouble tends to follow him:





Remember when I was thinking that the cure for Frank Drake's worthless bravado might be to have Dracula continue throwing him through walls? Since he still thinks he's somehow the Main Event for Dracula, we might as well start including windows:



As for Butterworth, he now has the unfortunate distinction of finding himself on Dracula's radar. Which brings us full circle, and a countdown to death:




With death on the way, Butterworth has had the presence of mind to throw a few defensive measures together. But we know that, if he's anything like Kolchak, he's only going to survive this confrontation with a good supply of desperate nerve, along with hopefully a little dumb luck:





Things look pretty bleak for Butterworth. But never underestimate the value of good old-fashioned flight, combined with a little of that luck that would come in handy right about now:



Dracula naturally has no choice but to flee, spitting out words of vengeance as he takes to the air. As for Butterworth, later he meets with his editor, Tony Vincenzo Paul Lamenzo, prepared to offer his skeptical boss the mother of all stories. But the bane of Carl Kolchak usually was to see his evidence of the supernatural destroyed, confiscated, or otherwise fall apart, and Butterworth will prove to be no luckier in that respect:



On the bright side, this is the Marvel universe, after all, so Butterworth will never have the same worries as his television counterpart about his story material eventually drying up.

3 comments:

Doug said...

Happy New Year, Comicsfan!

Doug

Anonymous said...

I would guess there's no quicker way to go from a Merry Christmas to a Scary New Year than an encounter with Dracula. There is nothing scarier than the Lord of the Vampires. Unless one was to get chased by a crow. I've heard it's like getting strafed by the Lupht, Loufftah, Luluwayft, the German Air Force circa 1940s.

The Prowler (from the old Spider-Man Crawlspace).

Comicsfan said...

Thank you, Doug, and the same to you!

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