TOMB OF DRACULA ISSUE NUMBER TWENTY ONE

"DEATHKNELL"

Cover Date: June 1974

Writer: Marv Wolfman

Pencils:: Gene Colan

Inker: Tom Palmer

Colorist: Tom Palmer

Letterer: John Costanza

Editor: Roy Thomas

.

Main Characters: Dracula, Frank Drake, Rachel Van Helsing, Brand, and Dr. Sun

Synopsis: The bizarre living brain known as Dr. Sun has captured Dracula, Frank Drake, and Rachel Van Helsing.  Triumphant, he reveals his origin to his prisoners.  .  Once a prominent Red Chinese scientist, he was punished during the Cultural Revolution by government officials who questioned his loyalty. Government surgeons (including Dr. Sun's own son) removed Dr. Sun's brain and transferred it into an anti-matter recaptacle connected to a vast computer bank.  The scientists did not realize that rather than making the computer more powerful it gave Dr. Sun control over the computers and amplified his own brain's power.  He quickly used his power to immolate the scientists who tortured him and transformed him.

Dr. Sun then releases Dracula and sends his vampire slave Brand into battle against the vampire lord.  Still weak from blood loss, Dracula is quickly defeated when Brand stakes him.

Back in London, England, Quincy Harker pleads with Blade to join his band of vampire hunters. Blade has learned that he is immune to vampire bites and Harker tells him his services would be well used in Harker's employ.  Blade rejects Harker's offer, telling him that his operation moves too slowly and he must find the vampire that murdered his mother.  Harker tells Blade the vampire must be dead by now but Blade tells Harker he can still sense the killer's presence.  Harker wishes Blade godspeed as he leaves to continue his search for his mother's killer.

Back in Dr. Sun's lair, Dracula awakes to hear Dr. Sun reveal his master plan. The human brain that is still Dr. Sun requires vast quanities of blood to survive. Forced to hunt for blood, Dr. Sun has calculated that the best hunters of blood are vampires and that he must bring them under his command.  After a long search for the right candidate, Dr. Sun's minions found the vampire Brand and using drugs and training, transformed him into Dr. Sun's slave.  Now, using technology he has created, Dr. Sun will copy Dracula's knowledge and memories into Brand.  The process is completed and Dr. Sun unleashes Brand on Dracula. Dr. Sun intends to have Brand kill Dracula and become the new lord of vampires with Dr. Sun as his master.

Unfortunately Dr. Sun has misjudged Brand's effectiveness.  While Brand fights with Dracula's knowledge and skill, he does not possess Dracula's heart or savagery.  Sensing he is on the losing end of this battle, Dr. Sun releases Frank Drake and Rachel Van Helsing, hoping they will slay Dracula.  Instead of doing what Sun expects, they bide their time and wait the outcome of the battle.  Surprisingly, Dracula seems to lose the battle as Brand hurls him into a panel of electronics, causing an explosion and Dracula'a apparent demise in a tremendous explosion.  With Dracula defeated, Brand tells Dr. Sun he has no need for him and prepares to destroy him.  However Dr. Sun has prepared for such an occassion and destroys Brand with a bolt of energy.  He then sets his Transylvanian base to self destruct and teleports to safety.  Frank Drake and Rachel Van Helsing make their escape as they realize that Dracula has finally been destroyed unaware of the bat flying away from Dr. Sun's exploding base.

NOTES: The Dr. Sun story that has slowly been building for the past year reaches its fiery conclusion in this issue as Dr. Sun's origin and master plan are revealed.  The artwork in this issue is fantastic, even by Gene Colan's high standards set in TOD as we see a heated battle between Dracula and the vampire Brand.

Once again we see a battle between vampires as Dracula battles Brand for the title of Lord of the Vampires.  Once again, Dracula's savagery and cunning enable him to beat a powerful opponent.  

This issue set a new direction for TOD as the Drac Pack erroneously believe Dracula has been destroyed.  This puts a temporary end to the long running storyline in TOD that had Dracula constantly being hunted by Harker and his band of vampire hunters.  It also set the stage for Round Two of Dracula vs. Dr. Sun.

Quincy Harker's comment to Blade that the vampire who slew Blade's mother must be dead can only be seen as a weak attempt at getting Blade to join Harker's band.  Since vampires are immortal, it is very possible that the vampire is still at large.  Interestingly, Blade comments that since the vampire's blood is in his system, he can still sense his presence.

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