Monday, November 25, 2013

Unusual Heroes: Dracula #1 (Dell, 1966)

Although Halloween passed weeks ago, I never got a chance to post about Dracula, the Dell superhero version from 1966. Dell's Dracula was part of an attempt to merge Universal monsters into superhero form, and similar versions were released featuring Frankenstein and The Werewolf.
Dell's "New Dracula" is based around a scientist working in a Romanian Castle during the height of the Cold War, trying to invent a chemical that can heal brain damage. He uses brain tissue from bats in the serum he creates, but all hell breaks loose once a lab bat knocks the serum into the guy's drink!

Drinking the serum causes the scientist to turn into a bat! And while he can now use the abilities a bat can afford, he is still weak in human form. He creates a rigorous workout program in the castle to buff himself up. He also hilariously tests himself in an obstacle course as his bat form, in one of the funnier moments of the comic.

He decides he needs a costume and orders one up at the local Tailor shop.We get to see his first action at crime fighting as he attempts to stop a few thieves nearby.

The scientist picks up his costume a few days later, and we witness the one and only panel featuring his new digs, clearly ripped off of Batman sans cape. He then makes a pledge to himself to use his powers to fight against the evil and corrupt acts of humanity.

There's also another story in this first issue featuring Dracula averting a few Cold War rockets from firing, but it was just too silly to include here. As you might tell, the story and quality of work here had the same campy feel of most Dell comics during that time period, and none of the "monster turned superhero" gimmicks broke new ground or ever ran beyond a few issues each. They certainly don't hold up well, and the rushed artwork doesn't help either.

Regardless, these have become pretty obscure comics, and if you can ignore the campy stories and appreciate the gimmick they are some cool collectible comics to have. Each of the Dell monster superhero comics ran three issues a piece, and I recommend picking them up if you can find them.


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