Friday, June 14, 2019

The Purging And The Plan!

While it's true that Dracula, the Lord of Vampires, can fly into a rage for any number of reasons, we tend to learn more about this sadistic and evil yet complicated man when that rage is the result of either personal betrayal or personal loss. One example of the latter can be found in his distant past, when his second wife, Maria, a woman he truly loved, was killed by an enemy Turk named Turac when they were both held captive, just shortly after Dracula became a vampire; and while perceived betrayal is nothing new to him, one instance that resonated deeply with him was when Sheila Whittier, a young woman he took pity on and unexpectedly found himself growing closer to, left him for another when she could no longer stomach his true nature.

Yet such instances pale beside the moment when Dracula's infant son, Janus, was slain before his eyes by Anton Lupeski, a priest in his satanic church whose intent was to kill Dracula but whose rifle shot instead hit the baby. You can correctly assume that Lupeski didn't survive the night; yet rather than to the side of his wife, Domini, the night is where Dracula retreats to vent his rage, his despair... and his deadly wrath.

But first, we return to the scene an hour later, when Dracula is still coming to grips with his loss--but, more than that, coming to terms with one more failure that forces him to confront the seeming futility of his attempts to ascend to power, to find a measure of reward and satisfaction in his un-life. On this night, it is his church that represents his failures, the edifice in which he channeled a great deal of effort and planning to see succeed--and the place where he began to build a new dynasty with a family he dared to cherish. It will be this church that first feels the brunt of his anger--or at least the parts of it that he's able to rend.

Yet still there is no relief for his frustration; instead, there is reflection, as Dracula finds himself thinking back to his first wife, a marriage of state forced on him by his father to a woman he loathed. Eventually, his abuse drove her to take her own life--but not before his daughter, Lilith, was born, an adversarial relationship which provokes more bitter memories. But the pattern for family betrayal--family loss--didn't stop with Lilith; indeed, it progressed even further with the birth of his first son, by Maria, a cycle of hate that has continued and endured to the present day.

It stands to reason, then, that Janus represented a new beginning to Dracula, combined with the new status and power that his church afforded him--only to now be seemingly slapped back to square one. And so with Dracula's anguish made manifest in his power over the elements, woe to those who find themselves caught up in his storm of torment.

If I were to take issue with writer Marv Wolfman's musings for Dracula here, it would be with his assertion that his past has been "more fruitful than [his] present"; if anything, I would have expected the opposite from him, given that Wolfman has shown Dracula's thoughts of his past to be filled with profound loss and developments that have chafed at him. To reach the realization, then, that his entire existence has been cursed would have been a reaction to the collapse of his current plans and the promise that a life with his new family offered.

It's curious that, even now, Dracula's mad ravings seek to justify his actions toward the innocent--forced to become a conqueror, a hunter, a slayer, one who under other circumstances would have lived and let live? The only thing that saves the life of this woman whom Dracula has fallen upon is the sudden appearance of her son, who in Dracula's haze is mistaken for Janus. It proves to be the final straw for this proud man who has seen that pride stripped away and replaced with reality colder than himself. Unfortunately, for the likes of Dracula, humility can lead to newfound tenacity and resolve--only this time he places his faith in one who has chosen a path that may prove impossible for him to follow.


Tomb of Dracula #60

Script: Marv Wolfman
Pencils: Gene Colan
Inks: Tom Palmer
Letterer: Joe Rosen


Anonymous said...

Great review.
My take is that Dracula, a brutal but proud man in life, scion of an ancient house now long since gone, refuses to succumb completely to his vampiric impulses, or any weakness. Like Milton's Satan he even rages against God. He refuses to become another blood-sucking revenant, holds onto his identity as best he can, but like Satan in Paradise Lost, he flails about looking for a purpose.
Great art here, this is Colan doing the stuff he did best.


Killdumpster said...

Excellent analysis of Marvel's Dracula, MP, oh my brother.

As far as Gene Colan goes, it was almost heartbreaking to read a book after he'd leave. I loved his Cap & Iron Man. He was the reason I'd buy Daredevil.

Comicsfan said...

M.P., I can't say that I agree with the suggestion that Dracula may feel there is some noble foundation to his struggle; in fact, I've slightly adjusted one of the paragraphs above which might have given the impression that I was sympathetic to his own justifications for the kind of man he became, the kind of life he (let's face it) embraced. In the state he's in, and with everything now catching up with him in this ultimate moment of despair, I think that he's understandably lashing out in a number of directions, with everything boiling down to his belief that everything he's done, everything he's tried, has been for naught--when we know that, just a day or two ago, he would have been the first person to reject that assessment.

This was a difficult story in which to form some sort of coherent opinion of Dracula's motivations, at the moment when he's become vulnerable to the memories of his own misdeeds and nearly all his walls have fallen--and if he himself has picked himself up and dusted himself off after such an episode of (you'll excuse the phrase) soul-searching, you and I may have to keep plugging away at it. :)