Tomb of Dracula (1972) #3 Retro Review

Writer: Archie Goodwin

Art: Gene Colon, John Costanza, and Tom Palmer

Price: $.20 cents

Release Date: July 1st, 1972

Frank Drake is filled with guilt and despair. After seeing his girlfriend turned into a vampire, he was the one that drove a stake through her heart and watched her turn to dust. Now on the brink of suicide, let’s travel to the fog-filled streets of London and see how this tale unfolds.

As Frank literally jumps off the bridge he’s caught by a giant man named Taj. He’s accompanied by Rachel Van Helsing, the latest in a long line of Van Helsings that have fought vampires. She has sought out Frank after his quick sale of Castle Dracula and moving his coffin in hopes of revenge with the help of his friend Clifton.

Speaking of Clifton, he’s at a pub and begs to stay as it is closing time and has been asked to leave. He’s rightfully scared, and his worst fears come true, as Dracula is waiting for him in the street. Dracula has need of Clifton’s services, and quickly makes him his servant by turning him into a vampire.

As Dracula feeds some more, Clifton is sent to the hotel to retrieve Dracula’s coffin. He’s led down to a sub-basement by a night porter.

Nearby, Rachel shows Frank the weapons of a vampire hunter and she tells Frank that he could end his life as he had tried to do, or join them in their fight against vampires! He agrees to join them and they also arrive at the hotel as Rachel wants to inspect Dracula’s coffin.

Things really get moving here, as everyone arrives at the coffin at almost the same time. Dracula has transformed the night porter into a vampire and put him in his coffin. As Rachel, Taj, and Frank discover the body, Dracula and Clifton try to escape. A fight ensues. A crucifix, a stake, as well as Dracula’s gold coins hit the floor as the fight goes on. The tides seeming turn as Rachel wields a crossbow with a wood tipped arrow. However, as she fires it at Dracula’s heart, he quickly transforms into a bat and flies away.

Frank, Rachel, and Taj are taken into custody by the police and they did not surprisingly don’t believe their crazy story about vampires.

Clifton meanwhile is transporting Dracula who lies in his casket, to the home of the person who bought the castle from Frank.

In an effort to prove their innocence Rachel, Frank, and Taj have brought the police to the morgue whereas night has fallen, the night porter has awoken as a vampire. Taj quickly drives a stake through his heart and the police offer an apology and offer their help.

We’re then taken to the house of Mrs. Stangway, once one of the most famous models of her day. Now as time has taken her beauty from her, she has resigned herself to turning to magic as a means to regain her beauty. Dracula quietly observes from outside. She tells us that vampires can’t enter a house that they’ve never been in before without being invited, so she invites him in, believing that they can help each other. To be continued…..

After just two issues, we have a new writer, Archie Goodwin. This really confused me as to the reason why, so I did a bit of research. Gerry Conway left as writer after only two issues because of too many writing assignments. Goodwin writes issues 3/4 and then Gardner Fox issues 5/6. So it seems like this series was in a state of flux for the first six months or so until Marv Wolfman takes over as writer in issue 7. If I wouldn’t have looked at the credits though I wouldn’t have known there was a different writer, so any creative changes didn’t show as far as this reviewer is concerned.

Although I’ve said it in every review, the art is the highlight of this series for me. The story is strong, but wouldn’t work as far as I’m concerned without Gene Colon’s pencil work.

As Dracula is a creature of the night, his nighttime panels with the fog rolling really set the mood.

Final Thoughts:

Some questions I had about issue two are answered and we’re also introduced to two new characters that appear will have major supporting roles. The story remains strong despite a new writer and the art again is the highlight of this issue.