Down For The Count: Dracula’s Greatest Comics Appearances
Next to the creation of Superman and the birth of Jack Kirby, the fact that Dracula is in the public domain is one of the best things that ever happened to comic books. From battles with everyone from Zorro to the X-Men to supporting roles in dubious knock-offs like the Drak Pack (where a gang of teenagers who turned into their monstrous forms with a three-way high-five called the "Drak Whack"), he's been in more comics than Wolverine!
That's why, in the spirit of the Halloween season, ComicsAlliance contributor Chris Sims has journeyed to the crumbling stone long boxes of Transylvania to rate Dracula's greatest comics appearances!
Probably the most well-known of all comic book Draculas, Marvel's version not only carried his own title, "Tomb of Dracula," for seventy issues (plus a couple dozen magazines), but became one of the Marvel Universe's most prominent villains, showing up for mystical throwdowns with "Nextwave"'s monster-hunting Elsa Bloodstone, the X-Men (wherein he, like Dr. Doom and Magneto before him, spent quite a few pages macking on Storm and laying the groundwork for future issues of "What If"), and even the crew of the Enterprise in a strange issue from when Marvel held the Star Trek license. His greatest foe, however, was Dr. Strange, who eventually used the arcane Montessi Formula to destroy every vampire on Earth.
As you might expect, they got better.
More recently, Dracula showed up in the sadly canceled "Captain Britain and MI-13," where he swapped the bitchin' '70s 'stache that Gene Colan gave him for a more fashionable goatee and declared war on the United Kingdom from his castle on the moon before setting sail through space on his magic pirate ship, because comic books are awesome. Unfortunately for him, MI-13 had access to both Excalibur (the sword, not the super-team) and two characters who pretty much do nothing but murder vampires, which led to him being pretty thoroughly killed. Again. Still, coming back to life is what that guy does, so we doubt he'll be down for long... if only thanks to the power of the mustache.
Red Rain Dracula
"Red Rain," the Doug Moench/Kelley Jones graphic novel that kicked off a trilogy of stories where Batman becomes a vampire, is one of the most popular Elseworlds stories ever published, and it all starts with a slightly maddened Dracula coming to Gotham City for a crossover that had been brewing since Batman debuted in 1939 with a look that was inspired in no small part by Big D himself.
The Dracula of "Red Rain," however, has clearly lost the fashion edge to Bruce Wayne. Seriously, this guy has a chance of outstripping even Harvey Comics' "Little Dracula" (a watered-down version of Casper, if you can believe such a thing exists) for being the goofiest looking version of the count to ever make it to the printed page:
Behold! Dracula: Lord of the Overbite! Even if you discount his problems with orthodontia, this version of Dracula still isn't quite up to snuff, mostly owing to the fact that his master plan is to come to Gotham City and fight Batman, which, as any thematic villain that's been dropped off at Arkham at three in the morning with a broken nose and a few missing teeth could've told him, was not one of his better ideas.
To be honest, this one's a bit of a cheat, as the comic book appearances of "Castlevania"'s Lord of Darkness -- most notably his role as the frequently nude villain of "Castlevania: The Belmont Legacy" -- aren't much to write home about. Instead, he's achieved his level of fame in the world of video games as the blood-drinking, girlfriend-kidnapping, André Malraux-quoting foe of the Belmont Family.
In the 23 years since his first appearance, Konami's Dracula has grown from a standard-issue end boss vampire to something more akin to Satan himself, an all-powerful lord of evil who counts even Death among his gang of flunkies. But on the other hand, he generally spends most of his time sitting around until it's time to have his ass handed to him by a guy with a magic whip -- because when you think about it, that actually does make as much sense as garlic and sharp sticks -- which makes him both the least proactive of and most ineffectual of all Draculi.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Dracula
Dracula's appearance on Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- a season-opener designed to make viewers think he was the villain of a major arc before Buffy soundly defeated him at the end of the episode -- is one of the true highlights of the series. When he returns as part of the "Season 8" comics, writer Drew Goddard is able to touch on a few aspects of the Count that didn't quite make it to television. Namely the fact that he is crazy racist.
It's like if the great-aunt that you only see on holidays who invariably makes for an awkward Thanksgiving dinner by casually working a racial slur into a request for more cranberry sauce, except that instead of eighty years to build to that point, she's had four hundred and is also a demon wearing human flesh to prey upon the living. But what do you expect? Dude eats people!
Dell Comics Dracula
Once in America, he sets up a "Dracula Cave," adopts the secret identity of -- wait for it -- Al U. Card, dedicates himself to battling the rampant scourge of zeppelin crime (which actually does sound awesome, but trust us, it's not) and even manages to rustle up a sidekick, Fleeta, whose name is short for "fleidermaus." Unsurprisingly, it lasted for only three issues before it was given the axe, though his series went for another three issues of reprints that gave the world a second chance at his mind-numbing adventures. They probably shouldn't have bothered.
Dr. McNinja Dracula
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja is one of our favorite webcomics here at CA, and the story that introduces the title character to Dracula is particularly awesome. According to creator Chris Hastings, it happened when he "realized that OH MY GOD, Dracula is in the public domain," which gave him the opportunity to present the Count as he was always meant to be: Punched in the face.
Like Marvel's Dracula, "McNinja"'s has a castle on the moon (Hastings' story ran online months before Cornell's "Captain Britain," though we chalk that one up to synchonicity) where he imprisons kidnapped celebrities, and like Castlevania's, he employs an army of lesser monsters that include Ghost Wizards, robot versions of himself, and, of course, Hitler.
Truly, he is the best of all possible Draculi.
Do you have a favorite Dracula that we left out? Upset that we didn't mention Hellsing or Vampire Hunter D? Then rise from your graves, children of the night, and leave us a comment!
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