The Death of Dracula
By Victor Gischler and Guiseppe Camuncoli
The murder of the King of Vampires leads to a mad grab for power by the blood-sucking night creatures in the Marvel Universe, spelling trouble for the merry mutants of the X-Men.
Back in May, news broke of the new X-Men series centering on a war between mutants and vampires. Leading up to this new title is a special one-shot that gets the ball rolling by introducing readers to the vast world of vampires in the MU. Despite a deluge of press and a special day announced to commemorate the new X-Men series, nothing at all was made of the Death of Dracula one-shot, leading to initially low orders. The lack of an X-Men logo on the cover further causes the comic to be easily missed. My own blogging hobby is the only factor that led to my purchasing a copy, that and the local comic shop owner having done his homework on the series.
The use of Dracula as the King of Vampires is very confusing. The character has been in use by Marvel for quite some time, dating far back to the classic Tomb of Dracula series by Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan and Tom Palmer. The character has also been seen in other titles, most recently in the pages of the woefully cancelled Captain Britain and MI:13 in which he declared war in the entire planet before being slain by Excalibur. As such, it is perplexing when Dracula pops up in this comic appearing to be an entirely new character. A brief aside that there was a revival from the King of Vampire’s ashes hardly assists the case and looks like a last minute addition. I have to point this out because fans of the Marvel version of Dracula are very knowledgeable of the character’s history and will notice this lack of continuity. Even for myself, it’s a distraction from the story. Perhaps the title of Dracula is intended to have been passed on to another and the white-haired red-armored bloke is not the same Dracula who battled Blade those many years ago. Because of the lack of references to previous Dracula comics by the author and the vastly different appearance of the character, I can’t be sure.
The plot of Death of Dracula is rather simple but peppered with mythology developing a diverse and elaborate world of sects or families of vampires living separately across the planet. During a special meeting, Dracula is murdered by his hot-blooded son Xarus in front of an assemblage of representatives of the ruling sects. This act openly declares a grab for political power that polarizes the other families. Dracula’s more subdued son Janus is eventually urged into action to stop what Xarus has called an open assault on the world of humanity.
Forming a hasty alliance with the reclusive Anchorites and Mystikos, Janus attempts to put a stop to his brother’s plot, but it is far too late. Xarus may appear to be bold and passionate, but he has also been crafty in his scheming. Despite the lack of support from the two more dangerous sects, the Krieger and Claw sects, Xarus uses state of the art technology and plain old under-handed dealing to insure that none stand in his way. The special closes with Janus narrowly escaping with no idea how he can stop his mad brother’s assault on non-vampires.
The continuity problems aside, Death of Dracula is a great comic. Often perplexing in its depiction of a segmented society of Vampires, the comic has a cinematic quality to it that gives the reader the feeling that something very big is on its way… and it is. Not only is a new X-Men comic on its way, but there are also three one-shots; X-Men: Curse of the Mutants – Blade, Smoke and Blood, and an unusual Gambit/Storm team-up.
In conjunction with the Death of Dracula one-shot, a Curse of the Mutants Saga promotional comic was made available. The special includes an interview with Gischler declaring his plans for the new ongoing series. There is still no firm team line-up for the series, but from his previous work on the excellent Deadpool Merc With a Mouth series, I have high hopes that this comic is in good hands. Joining Gischler as artist is his partner from the Deadpool comic, Paco Media. Fans will receive a glimpse of the what’s to come in a short preview in the promo depicting a food court meeting between Jubilee and Pixie (who appears to have, uh, grown some since I last saw her) before a Vampire suicide bomber explodes in a shower of blood and bones. Based on the promo images of the upcoming Curse of the Mutants storyline, the explosion apparently infects Jubilee, transforming her into a Vampire herself.
The upcoming story will introduce several new players to the X-Men Universe including the vampire hunter Blade, She-Hulk, Spider-Man and Elektra. These announcements have also polarized fans who would like a reason behind what appears to be a ‘casting gimmick ‘ from editorial. Again, I trust in Gischler and think that fans are in for quite a ride.
Reports are already coming in that this special issue sold out worldwide, in the US before the lunch hour was over! If you happen to see a copy, make sure to pick one up and mark your calendar for July 8th, X-Men Day.
A new era for the X-Men begins on Thursday, July 8 with the release of X-MEN #1 and Marvel is proud to celebrate with the inaugural X-Men Day! In the first X-MEN #1 in almost 20 years, Marvel’s mighty mutants enter the Heroic Age to face a deadly new threat, courtesy of fan favorite creators Victor Gischler and Paco Medina! Mark your calendars and be the first person on your block to score great X-Men Day commemorative items like the exclusive limited-edition cover print featuring Paco Medina’s “We Are The X-Men” images, exclusive variants, mini-posters and more! Plus, fans can’t miss the chance to add their own heroes to the X-Men lineup by sketching on the X-MEN#1 BLANK VARIANT!