2 out of 5
And here we have another entry in “I am a poor comic book fan,” in which I say that… I don’t always like Gene Colan. I mean, I do like Gene, quite a bit, when he’s rightly applied, and I definitely think his loose, heavy style works with the supernatural stuff with which he’s often paired… but I also think that that loose, heaviness is subject to the right inker.
Tom Palmer’s definitely a good inker for Colan, allowing for his murky blacks while also sharpening up his linework, and Tomb of Dracula – starring the titular vampire – certainly meets the supernatural quotient… but it’s also written with Marv Wolfman’s play-like oration, which requires a bit more acting than Colan’s bubbly figurework allows, and also dips in to some blowin’-up stuff action, with sci-fi guy Norrin Radd silver surfin’ into the picture. Colan is all murky mystery; moody or contemplative sequences; this issue is a lot of exposition and battles between Drac and SS. It could still be goofy fun, but Colan really biffs the choreography in the battle, which slows it down; and the lead-in to this – Anton Lupeski has the grand idea to mind-control Surfer and have him fight Drac – is exactly the kind of nonsensical comic book plotting that only makes sense if you’re deeply invested in the story and characters, and I appreciate I’m jumping cold into issue #50, but there’s nothing about the flat delivery of the tale that makes me think there’s enough prior to this to make it make actual sense. Surfer is also in pure insufferable mode here, complaining about them damned human beings rather illogically, whether mind-controlled or not.
After a couple of rereads, the hokiness of the setup (which is obviously just a justification for a guest-star) is amusing, and Drac pretty much kicking Surfer’s behind is also satisfying – nothing better than unleashing a horde of rats on someone who’s pretty obnoxious – but I prefer my Silver Age stuff to be charming on a first read.