Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review- TOMB OF DRACULA OMNIBUS VOL. 3

TOMB OF DRACULA OMNIBUS VOL. 3 (Marvel, 2010; Hardcover)
Collects Dracula Lives! Nos. 1-13, Frankenstein Monster Nos. 7-9, Tomb of Dracula (magazine) Nos. 1-6, and selections from Legion of Monsters No. 1 and Savage Sword of Conan No. 26 (cover dates 1973- August, 1980).
Writers: Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas, Steve Gerber, Tony Isabella, Doug Moench, Gary Friedrich, Gerry Conway, Gardner Fox, Len Wein, Chris Claremont, and many others.
Artists: Gene Colan, Dick Giordano, John Buscema, Steve Ditko, Neal Adams, Bill Sienkiewicz, Rich Buckler, Jim Starlin, Mike Ploog, Dick Ayers, Alfredo Alcala, Sonny Trinidad, George Tuska, Russ Heath, Pablo Marcos, Val Mayerik, Win Mortimer, Bob McLeod, John Romita, Sr., Tom Palmer, Klaus Janson, and many others. 
Artwork by the master, Gene Colan, with Pablo Marcos.
This book is a beast, weighing in at 5.8 lbs. (2.63 kilograms for my metric system using friends out there in the world outside of the United States) and clocking in at a staggering 944 pages. All of the issues are in black and white as originally published, with the exception of each issue's covers and the three Frankenstein Monster issues . I was glad to get the Roy Thomas/ Dick Giordano adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula here in its original black and white, since I have the recently completed and recolored hardcover. Girodano's artwork is gorgeous on that one. 
There is quite an assembly of talent here, and I bolded Wolfman and Colan's names because they did the lion's share of the stories contained herein. The roll call above is like a who's who of legendary creators from that era, and to have them all slapped between two covers is divine. While not every story is great, there is an ample amount of goodness to outweigh any so-so stories. Some of these stories are great, though, like the aforementioned Dracula adaptation, Angela from Tomb of Dracula #4, and Bounty For A Vampire from Dracula Lives! #13. The latter is especially great, with an over the hill marshal turned bounty hunter in pursuit of the lord of the vampires. It's a spaghetti western meets Horror, and it pre-dates all of these recent takes on that (i.e. American Vampire from Vertigo/DC) by decades. 
There are so many good stories and creators involved that I cannot possibly list them all. Let me just add that it pleases me to no end that Dark Horse gave Marvel permission to reprint the two stories featuring Solomon Kane here for completion's sake, since Marvel no longer holds the license for the Robert E. Howard characters. Kudos to Dark Horse! I hope that there can be more cooperation between all of the companies when it comes to comprehensive reprint projects like this. When issues are omitted due to licensing rights, it's a like a smile that is missing a tooth.
Did Steve Ditko bring The Question to Marvel?? Nope, it appears that he just liked drawing faceless characters with that style of hat. Rorschach who?
The OCD zone- The restoration is generally excellent. The problem lies with the super high gloss paper, which is much, much glossier than any stock that Marvel has used in years. While it feels great, and I am admittedly partial to coated paper stock with a slight sheen, the black and white material contained in this book is difficult to read under both CFLs and incandescent light bulbs. The only comfortable, glare free reading that I had was in natural light with no other lights on. This book boasts wonderful sewn binding, and like all post-2007 Marvel Omnibus hardcovers, lays flat from the first page to the last. I just wish that the paper wasn't so damned shiny. 
Gene Colan- one of the absolute masters of the art form.
 
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