Monday, October 20, 2014

Dracula! In Comics!

It's not always easy to have a "scary" superhero book.  When your lead characters have superhuman strength, speed, and agility, it's a bit hard to ever feel like they're overwhelmed by something "terrifying."  Usually it takes one of the "big" monsters in order to provide people with a challenge, but even then, it's not hard to picture superheroes doing pretty well against your standard mummies, Frankensteins, and werewolves.   You can bring in your Cthulhus, krakens, and zombie swarms, but even then you need a gimmick to make them actually "scary."

Or stupid, depending on how long they drag the gimmick out.

So how about we bring out one of (arguably) the biggest guns horror comics have?  Why don't we bring in Dracula?

Dracula has never really latched on to the DC comics universe.  The character might be in the public domain, but you still have to treat the character right or people will raise quite a stink.  I can only really think of a few instances of the character showing up.  There was his one-shot with Batman which, when you think about it, is possibly the worst superhero for him to try to deal with.  "I know, I'll go to a city that has a being rumored who has all of the characteristics of us and could have the willpower to hold on to his humanity even if he was turned."  It didn't turn out well for either side.

Then there was the time Dracula met Superman, and to be wasn't a bad plan.  Dracula tries to exploit Superman's weakness to magic to make him one of his slaves, and I've heard worse ideas from super villains.  He lures out Lois Lane to his castle as bait for Superman because Superman always shows up to save Lois Lane.  He then lays the mystical whammy and hypnotises Superman, and then...

So, yeah, that's a thing that happened.

Now, Marvel, on the other hand, has had much better luck in making Dracula a threat.  Besides his own title that ran for seven years (where he primarily played the villain, how many villains can say they've had their own book for seven years?), he's gone on to have fights against the X-Men, the Hulk, Captain Britain, the Silver Surfer (!), Blade (several times), and even had a battle against X-Men villain Apocalypse amongst others.

Now, when it came to horror, very few companies did it as well as Marvel did in the 70s.  Let's look at a few of those classic covers.

Now, the big question is "can he really be a genuine threat against superheroes?  Is he something that would be scary against Wolverine, Spider-Man, or even Thor?"  Well, Marvel has bumped up his power set a bit, but, well, again, let's let the images do the talking.

Now, to be fair, Dracula had just drained some Asgardian blood to boost his power of storm control there.  Which Asgardian?

You go, Vlad.

What?  The guy has good taste.  No pun intended.  Much.

Where was I?

Oh, right.  With such a solid presence of Dracula in Marvel, it made sense for DC to back off and focus on other characters.  They managed to have some (extremely) limited luck with Frankenstein over at their end, but other than the occasional elder god or cosmic monster (which, again, Marvel does better), no "monster" has been handled as well in comic books as Dracula.

Even if they have turned him into a white-haired weirdo with armor in his latest appearances, but I'll still always fondly remember him as the guy who had the brilliant idea to launch an army of vampires from the moon.

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