Sunday, May 24, 2015

Dracula 12

At last we come to the final issue of Dracula. Enric Sio provides his sole cover for the publication with this issue, and its quite a good one. One of the scarier looking covers we've had over the 12 issue run.

We begin with Wolff in "The Beginning of the End" by Esteban Maroto. A woman from Wolff's tribe named Lenora stands before the witches of Ginza, begging to be killed so she can have peace. Khet-Ahm had warned them of Wolff's coming, and he soon arrives, seeking to avenge his wife. Hearing the cry of Lenora he rushes forward and battles the witches, who are largely decayed. After defeating them Lenora tells him she will bring him to the swamp where he will find the body of his wife Bruma. She brings Wolff to Bruma's body. Lenora asks Wolff to let her come with him and that there may be others out there who have survived. Wolff heads off with her. A rather anti-climatic end to Wolff's story, with the witches being very easily defeated by Wolff. Much of Wolff's storyline has been rather dreary in mood and this story is no different, with Bruma being dead. Overall Wolff was a shaky series at times, but Esteban Maroto's good art always made up for it. His Dax (aka Manly) series that would appear in Eerie is a good place to turn to if one is looking for another series that is similar in tone, while also superior in quality.

Next is "Waiting". The story is uncredited, but from what I've looked into online appears to have been drawn by Manuel Lopez Blanco. A man reads a story about the success of a colleague of his, Hermann Von Schilling, who has recently been appointed chancellor. The man complains to his butler Otto about how he has been forgotten amonst those in his plane squadron (from what appears to be World War I). He considered himself an elite pilot and is upset about how Schilling has obtained this honor. He wonders where those men who used to cheer him and the women who used to fight for his attention have gone. As the story ends he is shown to be horrifically scarred and burned. He proclaims he will wait and once again be called for by his country. A  rather odd story with no supernatural elements to it, a rarity for this publication.

Next is "The Curse" by Jose Bea. The story features a monkey named Chri-Hari, who is the traveling companion of a great samurai named Tanaka. Tanaka ravages the temple of Ochigo, leaving only a blind beggar alive. The begger proclaims that Tanaka will die that day at noon and is quickly killed by Tanaka because of it. Tanaka heads to an attic where he thinks no one will be able to find him, such that noon will pass without him dying. Tanaka thinks of how Chri-Hiri is his good luck charm. It ends up being Chri-Hiri who ends up being Tanaka's doom though as he stabs him from behind with his sword.

Dracula concludes with "Marian" by Enric Sio. A woman lays before her mirror and criticizes her grand-daughter Marian, who thinks her clothes are old fashioned and has no respect for her. She wonders why Marian has been playing around the family vault and the setting is shown to be in an old cathedral. The woman calls for Marian to come to her and the girl screams as the story ends. My best guess at this story is that the lead character has been dead the entire time and leads her granddaughter to her death. She looks too young to be a grandmother though. Like several previous stories by Sio it is hard at times to make much sense of what is going on although the art is quite nice.

Overall this final issue is a bit of a disappointment, with none of the four stories here being at the level of some of the stories we have had here in the past. Still, outside of "Waiting", we have some fairly strong art here and this is probably my favorite cover of the 12 issue run. Looking at the entire 12-issue run, I think Dracula acts as a good preview to the work that we'll see from Esteban Maroto, Jose Bea and Enrich Torres throughout their long runs at Warren. Bea in particular provides some truly scary and bizarre moments throughout. The Agar-Agar series was unfortunately always a big waste of time. Enric Sio is the highlight though and the main reason to try and track these down. While his stories don't always make the most sense, he's got some really strong art throughout all 12 issues. It's a shame he never did any work for Warren as I think he would have fit in well.

5 comments:

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Diego Cordoba said...

Manuel L√≥pez Blanco was already a seasoned professional when he contributed to Dracula. He had taken over Aventuras del FBI from Luis Bermejo in the 50s, and both Maroto and Carlos Gim¢nez had been assistants to Blanco before joining SI artists.

stevegreen said...

Sio's cover is indeed quite striking, and wouldn't have looked out of place in a cinema foyer advertising the latest release from AIP or Amicus.

Sadly, we lost Blanco just before Xmas. There's an eBay vendor based in Glasgow who's currently offering a near-complete run of the Odhams title Fantastic on DVD, and it would certainly be fun to reacquaint myself with Blanco's work on The Missing Link / Captain Future. The same dealer has the full run of Misty, which I have ordered, but sadly no issues of Spellbound, which I recall featured a Maroto strip about a team of lithe young female aliens.

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