I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!
I'm no historian, but from the little I know about the subject, the actual historic figure that Count Dracula is based on is just as terrifying (if not more so, for having actually existed) as his fictional counterpart. This 3 issue mini tries to do two things. . .tell the terrible story of Vlad Dracula and then meld him with the fictional Count Dracula. Does it work? Read on!
DRACULA: VLAD THE IMPALER (Topps)
Vlad Dracula, young son of Vlad Dracul, ruler of Wallachia, is taken as a hostage along with his brother, Radu by Sultan Mehmed I to ensure their father's loyalty. During his captivity, he becomes friends with Mehmed II.
Later, as a young man, Vlad learns of his father's death at the hands of traitorous nobles and the Sultan makes him the ruler of Wallachia. He wages a cruel war to regain his lands and forces the surviving nobles to build his castle.
Overall, I found this issue to be a pretty good read. It's a bit wordy, and told mostly in caption boxes, as it is trying to tell an actual historical tale, but Roy Thomas keeps it from getting dry and scholarly. The art is very nice in the pencil and ink department. . .it's really good in some panels, with a detailed old school look to it.
The big problem with this book is the AWFUL coloring. While the art itself is very nice, the colors are heavy handed and entirely too bright. Each page of this dark tale is a veritable rainbow of yellows, purples, reds, and greens to the point of distraction. No bueno!
Vlad Dracula rules Wallachia with cruelty and torture. He fights to keep his throne against the invading forces of his former friend, Mehmed The Conqueror and his own brother, Radu The Handsome.
After his forces are beaten back and Dracula is forced to retreat, his wife commits suicide and he is betrayed and taken prisoner by his former ally, King Matthias of Hungary.
In captivity, he descends into madness and plots his revenge. . .
This was another pretty good read. We get to see Dracula in full legendary "Cruel Bastard" mode. . .nailing turbans to heads, rounding up beggars in a building and burning them alive, feasting among impaled corpses, and so on.
Unfortunately, there's also a lot of random battles that only get a panel or two. I guess there was a LOT of fighting over this little patch of Eastern Europe at the time. Luckily, Roy Thomas keeps a steady hand on the wheel and doesn't let it turn into a documentary.
Once again, the line art by Maroto is very nice, with some panels being outstanding. Unfortunately, the color art is just as bad as the first issue, and possibly worse. Bloody battles are colored in bright shades of blue, yellow and purple. It's really distracting.
Vlad is freed from captivity to fight the invading Turks for King Matthias of Hungary, but after once again regaining the throne of Wallachia, he is assassinated by a traitor in the ranks of his army.
150 years later, one of Vlad's ancestors reunites his severed head and body, then brings Vlad back to life using dark magic and blood. Vlad The Impaler has become the immortal Vampire, Count Dracula. . .
This final issue was probably the best of the three. Not only does it depart from the history books to tell the tale of how Vlad The Impaler rose from the dead as a vampire, but the coloring. . .while in places still just as God-awful as before. . .is much more muted and appropriate for the dark story at hand.
All in all, a very nice wrap up for the series.
Overall, I enjoyed this little mini. Comic veteran Roy Thomas did a fine job at giving a pretty good sketch of the life of the historic figure of Vlad Dracul, while also getting monster-ific at the end of things with the transformation into fictional vampire Count Dracula. The line art by old school comic veteran, Esteban Maroto, was solid through the series and outstanding at times, with a great bronze age throwback style.
If that all there was to it, this would be a GREAT mini-series. Unfortunately, the color art was heavy handed and inappropriately bright for the dark story at hand. Finely-drawn panels are splashed liberally with bright purples, yellows, oranges, and reds to the point that it really detracts from the quality of the series. The last issue toned things down to a more tolerable level, and it's plain to see that if the same restraint had been shown on the first two issues, this would have been a MUCH better product.
Up Next. . .
ONE SHOTS! I love the one shots!
Aliens, Ruse, Batman, Captain America, The Goon, Hellboy, Punisher, Red Sonja, Boba Fett, Dracula, X-Files, and. . .Saddam Hussein? Be there or be square!
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