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.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Dracula 11

Esteban Maroto provides the cover for this issue of Dracula, featuring Wolff fighting an ape-like creature. Unlike the previous Wolff cover, this one has nothing to do with the story inside (and Wolff's hair color is wrong).

The issue begins with Wolff in "The Lair of the Witches" by Esteban Maroto. Wolff heads towards Ghamada, the coast of corpses. Wolff heads inside a castle there, finding the sorcerer Khet-ahm. Khet-ahm summons his master, Sa-Ghot. Wolff comes across a girl Jehane, the companion of Sa-Ghot and warns her to be quiet. Wolff follows her thorugh the castle and then she embraces and kisses him. Khet-ahm as does Sa-Ghot, revealed to be a giant horned creature. Sa-Ghot crushes Jehane in its hands and throws her aside. Wolff attacks it and calling upon the power of Nadira, daughter of Jupiter destroys it. Khet-ahm dies, but warns the witches that Wolff is coming. The absense of Katarina from this story, or her father makes it come off as if we've skipped an issue. This story seems more similar in tone to the earlier stories in this series. With only one issue left, it will be interesting to see how they wrap up this storyline.

No Sir Leo this issue, rather Jose Bea provides us a stand-alone story, "A Story of The Stars". A man looks at the stars each night and ignores 2 friends who head out in their car. He notices a metal star appear in the sky and fly off. The man finds his friends gone, but their car still around. As he touches the car, a bizarre, blob/octopus-like alien arrives and starts absorbing him. The alien says they have taken his friends into the stars, a place far better than they have known and will do the same to him as well. The man and his friends are never seen again, but three new stars appear in the night sky. A story with some very bizarre artwork, this is quite good and reminds me of the story "The Other Side of Heaven" from Vampirella 28.

Next is "Over the Rainbow" by Alberto Solsona, the final story in the Agar-Agar series. Now back on Xanadu, Agar-Agar is told she has neglected her mission to find a new place that those of Xanadu could move to. Agar-Agar returns to the blue prince (last seen in issue 8) and he fights a seven headed dragon, killing off evil with each head he cuts off. The prince returns to her and she realizes this place would be perfect for her people to come to. Agar-Agar remains with the prince and they talk of the children they may have some day. This series comes to a very abrupt and lackluster end. Throughout Dracula's entire run this series has been the big weak point and that doesn't change with this final segment.

The story concludes with "Again Highway 61" by Enric Sio. An accident has occurred at the intersection of Highway 61 and Route 84. There are 2 survivovrs being transported in an ambulance. The narrative then changes to some people mourning the death of a woman named Claudette. The group wants to take her to a place named Lourdes; to get there they need to go across the highway. They carry her coffin and head across the highway, causing a large accident. Like with many of Sio's stories, the narrative here is a bit confusing at times. I am guessing that the ending of the story is telling how the accident at the beginning took place.