Before The Curse of Dracula, author, Marv Wolfman, and artist, Gene Colan, had already made a significant contribution to vampires in popular culture. In the 1970’s, they worked together on Marvel’s long-running horror comic, The Tomb of Dracula, in which they famously gave birth to the vampire hunter, Blade, in issue ten. In 1988’s The Curse of Dracula, the titular vampire has made a home in San Francisco, pursuing power through the political elite, while he maintains a legion of vampire servants. A band of vampire hunters, including Jonathan Van Helsing, are investigating increased vampire activity in the area. While doing so, they stumble across another man descendant from one of the vampire’s old enemies, Sebastian Seward, who reveals to them that Dracula is still alive. Together, they pursue Dracula and attempt to infiltrate his plans.
The characters that Wolfman introduces here have interesting back stories, but they could stand to be fleshed out a little more. There is some cultural stereotyping, which flattens out otherwise intriguing personalities. The story is a nice blend of horror and adventure, and places gothic elements from the original legend into a modern, more action-oriented tale. Dracula has always suffered from romanticism in fiction, even at his most evil, but here it’s shown more for what it really is: lust and servitude. The flip side of avoiding the idealism that can seep into other vampire stories is that Dracula can be a bit predictable.
Colan’s artwork is the star in this edition and for good reason. It’s full of action and movement to reflect the story, and retains a classic gothic style in the midst of portraying a modern world. Colan is creative at blending artwork and panels on a given page, and his rendering of Dracula’s shape-shifting is especially nice. His vampires really look like monsters, yet they’re just as wonderfully expressive as his sketches of human characters.
Dark Horse’s new hardcover edition of Curse includes all three issues that originally ran in 1998, a new foreword by Wolfman on top of his introduction from the 2005 trade paperback, and Colan’s original pencil sketches.
This series is good for Tomb of Dracula fans, as well as any reader that likes a good B-movie vampire story and prefers their vampires to be monstrous rather than brooding. This is mainly for adults or older teens, as there are some sexual themes and violence. There is blood and gore, which may disturb some readers, but will satisfy horror fans. It’s also very action-oriented and may appeal to those who don’t ordinarily read horror, but can handle a bit of blood with their adventure.