TOMB OF DRACULA ISSUE NUMBER TWENTY TWO
"IN DEATH DO WE JOIN"
Cover Date: July 1974
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Pencils:: Gene Colan
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colorist: Tom Palmer
Letterer: L. Lessmann
Editor: Roy Thomas
Main Characters: Dracula, Petra Vornik, & Gorna Storski
Synopsis: The scene is Kamenka, Moldavia in the Soviet Union. In the small village a couple rush into their daughter's room to see her dead husband hovering over her body. The two peasants manage to scare off the man but he swears he shall have his former wife.
Above the village, Dracula eyes its inhabitants, thirsty for fresh blood. He interrupts a young couple in the midst of making love and kills them both, quenching his bloodthirst.
Back in the peasant home, Petra Vornik is comforted by her parents after her attacker is driven off. Petra recalls how her husband Gorna was a jealous,violent man until his mysterious death. He vowed to return from the grave to claim her but Petra did not believe him even until his funeral when she watched the special ceremony for the undead and learned her husband had been bitten by a vampire.
Elsewhere, Dracula goes to the village cemetery where he has a coffin prepared and waiting for him. He is challenged by Gorna who tells Dracula to leave. Dracula asks Gorna if he knows who he is challenging and Gorna tells Dracula to return to Transylvania. Dracula commands Gorna to obey him but incredibly, Gorna resists his commands. Dracula summons a bolt of lightning which strikes Gorna but the vampire escapes unharmed.
Gorna once again enters his former wife's home and commands her to come to him. Petra cannot resist Gorna's hypnotic spell and she gives in to his vampiric kiss. Again, Petra's parents come to her rescue as Petra's father attacks Gorna with a burning stake, driving him off. Seeking answers, Dracula enters Petra's home and hypnotically compels her to tell him all she knows of Gorna.
Back in London, Quincy Harker is recovering in his home from the attack of Dracula's daughter Lilith. Frank Drake and Rachel Van Helsing listen as Harker warns them of the danger Lilith presents. Van Helsing tells Harker that their comrade Taj has disappeared, leaving England to return to his native India.
After interrogating Petra, Dracula confronts Gorna again. The two engage in battle and Dracula discovers that Gorna's flesh has been burnt from his bod, leaving little more than an animated skeleton. As they battle, a mob of villagers gather to find Gorna's coffin and destroy it. While Gorna puts up a good fight, he is no match for Dracula and Dracula hurls Gorna into a fire caused by their battle, destroying the vampire. Dracula flies away as Petra discovers the ashen remains of her husband. She is free at last.
NOTES: This story was a nice self contained story after the Werewolf by Night crossover and the battle with Dr. Sun. It is interesting to see Dracula in a new locale (the USSR) and while this is the third time we have seen Dracula battle another vampire, this story is kept fresh by the locale and the backstory of a possessive husband stalking his wife from beyond the grave. Further adding to the story's freshness is the fact that the Moldavian villagers are well aware of vampires and somewhat able to defend themselves against the undead (as opposed to England where few are aware of their existence).
This issue begins leaving clues for a mystery that will develop in TOD over the next year. Here, Gorna is able to resist Dracula's commands even though all vampires are subject to Dracula's commands as he is Lord of the Vampires. Why this occurs will not be revealed for some time but it ties in with the events of issue 21.
Once again we see that Dracula has a number of hiding spots around the world where he can rest. Here in this remote village, Dracula has a coffin waiting for him just as he has numerous ones around the world.