DRACULA: VLAD THE IMPALER
Since it's the end of October, let's take a short break from Dynamite's Green Hornet for something a little more in tune with the Halloween season. I'm talking Dracula here!
But probably NOT the Dracula you might be thinking of. I'm talking about the insane badass that Dracula was as a mortal man AND top ten contender for most awesome name in history. . .Vlad The Impaler.
Now, I'll admit I'm no historian, but the little I know about the subject from the History Channel's Halloween programming tells me that the actual historic figure that Count Dracula is based on is just as terrifying (if not more so, for having actually existed) as his fictional counterpart. This 3 issue mini tries to do two things. . .tell the terrible true story of Vlad Dracula and then meld him with the fictional Count Dracula. Does it work? Read on!
Topps - 1993
SCRIPTS: Roy Thomas
PENCILS, INKS & COVERS: Esteban Maroto
COLORS: Paul Mounts
ISSUE 1: "I AM DRACULA"
Later, as a young man, Vlad learns of his father's death at the hands of traitorous nobles and the Sultan makes him the ruler of Wallachia. He wages a cruel war to regain his lands and forces the surviving nobles to build his castle.
Overall, I found this issue to be a pretty good read. It's a bit wordy, and told mostly in caption boxes, as it is trying to tell an actual historical tale, but Roy Thomas keeps it from getting dry and scholarly. The art is very nice in the pencil and ink department. . .it's really good in some panels, with a detailed old school look to it.
The big problem with this book is the AWFUL coloring. While the art itself is very nice, the colors are heavy handed and entirely too bright. Each page of this dark tale is a veritable rainbow of yellows, purples, reds, and greens to the point of distraction. For an example of the interior art, just check out the cover above. It's exactly the same. Those colors. . .NO BUENO!
ISSUE 2: "DARK LEGEND A'BORNING"
After his forces are beaten back and Dracula is forced to retreat, his wife commits suicide and he is betrayed and taken prisoner by his former ally, King Matthias of Hungary. In captivity, he descends into madness and plots his revenge. . .
This was another pretty good read. We get to see Dracula in full legendary "Cruel Bastard" mode. . .nailing turbans to heads, rounding up beggars in a building and burning them alive, feasting among impaled corpses, and so on.
Unfortunately, there's also a lot of random battles that only get a panel or two. I guess there was a LOT of fighting over this little patch of Eastern Europe at the time. Luckily, Roy Thomas keeps a steady hand on the wheel and doesn't let it turn into a documentary.
Once again, the line art by Maroto is very nice, with some panels being outstanding. Unfortunately, the color art is just as bad as the first issue, and possibly worse. Bloody battles are colored in bright shades of blue, yellow and purple. It's really distracting. Once again, a look at the cover above will tell you what I'm talking about.
ISSUE 3: "TO RISE AGAIN"
150 years later, one of Vlad's ancestors reunites his severed head and body, then brings Vlad back to life using dark magic and blood. Vlad The Impaler has become the immortal Vampire, Count Dracula. . .
This final issue was probably the best of the three. Not only does it depart from the history books to tell the tale of how Vlad The Impaler rose from the dead as a vampire, but the coloring. . .while in places still just as God-awful as before. . .is much more muted and appropriate for the dark story at hand.
All in all, a very nice wrap up for the series.
The line art and inking by old school comic veteran, Esteban Maroto, was solid through the series and outstanding at times, with a great bronze age throwback style that I really liked a lot.
If that all there was to it, this would be a GREAT mini-series.
Unfortunately, the color art was heavy handed and inappropriately bright for the dark story at hand. Finely-drawn panels are splashed liberally with bright purples, yellows, oranges, and reds to the point that it really detracts from the quality of the series. The last issue toned things down to a more tolerable level, and it's plain to see that if the same restraint had been shown on the first two issues, this would have been a MUCH better product.
Despite the awful coloring of this series, I'd suggest picking it up for a pretty good read. I found all three issues in a comic shop dollar box, so it's definitely Longbox Junk, but decent Longbox Junk.
Up Next. . .
Back to Dynamite's Green Hornet for some REAL horror as the series flies completely off the rails.
Be there or be square!