TOMB OF DRACULA ISSUE NUMBER TWENTY FIVE
"NIGHT OF THE BLOOD STALKER!"
Cover Date: October1974
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, Taj, & Blade
Synopsis: An attractive young woman named Adrianne Walters enters the office of private investigator Hannibal King. King listens as she tells him of her newlywed husband being murdered by a mysterious man who broke into their apartment and then flew away. King explains to her that her husband was murdered by a vampire. At first she cannot believe him but he tells her he has first hand experience with a white haired vampire who murdered an entire factory and of a recent tragedy where a vampire slew all the passengers aboard an airliner. King agrees to take the case and begins his search for the vampiric killer.
King's investigation begins at a local bar where he begins questioning customers who knew the late Fred Walters. A bartender invites King to the back room to discuss the case only to ambush King with a crow bar. The bartender is quickly subdued and King discovers bite marks on his necks. He quickly deduces that the bartender is the slave of the vampire he is seeking.
King next visits the dockside office where Walters was employed. He overhears a man ordering someone to make sure coffins are delivered without mistake or it will lead to more deaths like that of the accountant's. King breaks into the office and aims his revolver at at Dracula who orders him to drop the weapon and tells him he knows his bullets will have no effect on him. King fires anyways, knowing that the bullets will pass through Dracula and hit his slave (which they do). King attacks Dracula but is thrown through a second story window. King returns after Dracula has left and questions Dracula's wounded slave. He finds the location of the coffin shipment and heads there to confront Dracula.
Later that eveing, King sneaks into the warehouse and confronts Dracula. Dracula sics his vampire servants on King and King fights back, slowly succumbing to the overwhelming odds. Before he is defeated though, the sound of approaching sirens force Dracula and the other vampires to flee. King had intentionally set off a silent alarm while entering the warehouse and this precaution saves his life.
King later tells Mrs. Walters that her husband was murdered because he had come across the business records of the vampire and became suspicious. As Mrs. Walters leaves, King thinks to himself that he is all too familiar with vampires for he is one as well. The vampire who wiped out a factory also slew him and he is dedicated to hunting that white haired vampire down so he can avenge his own murder.
NOTES: A great hardboiled detective story with a vampiric twist. This story proceeds like any classic detective story until the last page when it is revealed that King is a vampire (although hints are dropped left and right throughout the story). Here we find another vampire (like Dr. Morte) who is not evil. Once again Marv Wolfman weaves another character into his complex universe by having Hannibal King hunting the same vampire who slew Blade's mother. This is not stated flat out but the description of the vampire leads no doubt in anyone's mind who is a devoted reader of TOD "Long white hair slicked back and eyes that burned a hellish red".
In this story we get hints that Dracula exists in the Marvel universe of superheroes. During King's interview with Adrianne Brown he notes to himself that there are people who can fly and much more, heroes who live in the United States.
This issue also continues to show the gradual (and yet unexplained) loss of Dracula's vampiric powers. As Lord of the Vampires, Dracula should be able to order King about but he cannot.
Some of the clues that King is a vampire include:
1) He casts no reflection in the mirror at the bar.
2) He is tossed out a second story window without any harm.
3) Dracula recognizes him as a vampire and attempts to command him.