The Lord of the Vampires is back, and up to his old
tricks.

General Information

Title: Essential Tomb of Dracula Vol. 2

Credited to Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan and Friends

Original Publication Date: 2004 reprint of material
first published
from 1974 to 1976.

ISBN: 0-7851-1461-0

Cover Price: $16.99 US, $27.25 Canadian

Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Past comic reviews can be found here.

Premise

Dracula continues to live as the undead, facing off
against Blade,
Quincy Harker and company, Doctor Sun, Doctor Strange,
and some new
faces.

This collection contains Tomb of Dracula
#26-49, Giant
Sized Dracula
#2-5, and Dr. Strange #14.

High Point

The foreshadowing in issue 47.

Low Point

Facing off against Dr. Strange. Having read the first
Essentials
about Dr. Strange and the Defenders, I’d have to say
that Dracula
wouldn’t have posed nearly this much trouble for him.

The Scores

This doesn’t feel original. In fact, it felt
like more of
the same that was found in volume one, and that didn’t
feel original.
If you’re going to use a character so overused as
Dracula, you really
have to be doing the unexpected, and not just
rehashing the old. The
Doctor Sun and wedding stories showed glimmers of the
new, but just
not enough to rescue the volume. I give it 3 out of
6.

The artwork was generally good. It was dark
and moody, as
this title’s art should have been. There was a
tendency to go off
model, though, particularly in facial close-ups. I
give it 4 out of 6.

The stories are loaded with talk about
Dracula creating his
hordes of followers which will allow him to manipulate
the world from
behind the scenes, though there are only one or two
plots that
actually have a mechanism that would allow that. The
stories are
shallow and formulaic. I admit that’s true of many
comic series, but
most are about the heroes to respond to outside
threats, so long terms
goals aren’t as critical. This is about one immortal
character who
wants to rule the world, and who is depicted as being
very
intelligent, which strikes me as a formula for
long-term plotting and
machinations which are absent in this story. It feels
like they
wanted to limit plots to no more than five issues to
maintain
accessibility to new readers, but that doesn’t fit the
character they
chose to use as their star. The individual stories
are done well
enough, but they just don’t seem to fit the lead
character. I give it
3 out of 6.



The characterization of Dracula was clear,
and clearly didn’t
fit the style of the writing, which was a problem I’ve
already talked
about. Good work was done with Frank Drake, and the
existing vampire
hunters were handled well, though they weren’t taking
the focus they
used to have. The new characters of Harold H. Harold
and Aurora were
irritating from the moment they were introduced, yet
they continued to
appear long after they could have been jettisoned from
the cast. I
give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response was poor. In fact,
there was really
only one issue (#47) that ended in a way that really
pulled me back
again. In a 29 issue collection, that’s not a good
thing. It’s not a
bad set, and there are good moments, but there’s
nothing here that
would have convinced me to buy another issue had I
been buying off the
rack. I give it 3 out of 6.

The flow is odd. The Giant-Sized issues
interrupt the flow
of the main title, since they are not a part of the
serial nature of
the story. Some of the art makes individual pages
hard to follow, as
the panels arrangements are somewhat irregular and
counter-intuitive.
The serialized nature does help overcome some of this,
though. I give
it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a decent collection, but I’m
not sure I’d
recommend it to any but a devoted Dracula or vampire
fan. If you’re
looking for a taste of some non-super comics, try the
first volume
instead. You’ll get a feel for what it’s like with
all the relevant
back story, and can then decide for yourself if you
want to keep
collecting. I give it 3 out of 6.

In total, Essential Tomb of Dracula Vol. 2
receives 28 out of
42.

Additional Notes and Comments

I have volumes three and four as well, but I’ll take a
breather and go
in fresh before reviewing them. There’s a bit of a
repetitive feel to
this, so diving right in would exaggerate that
feeling. I’ll review
some other volumes first, or just read some prose
instead.