Tomb of Dracula Presents: Throne of Blood
Opening to the movie Blade
Tomb Of Dracula One Shot
Tomb of Dracula Presents: Throne of Blood is a one shot from Marvel Comics that tells an interesting little vampire story written by Victor Gischler with art by Goran Parlov and Dalibor Talajic. This is the story of a Japanese samurai vampire named Raizo Kodo as told by Dracula to one of his minions (I don't know why Marvel has so dramatically changed Dracula's appearance. Okay, the way they used to draw him back in the 1970's is dated but I have a sentimental attachment to that old Gene Colan art and would just assume have today's artists create a new look for the king of vampires that shows some sort of continuity with it. Heck, the use of the term "Tomb of Dracula" in the title is used specifically to get old timers like me to give it a look since back then Dracula's book was Tomb of Dracula.) Unless Marvel has plans for a line of vampire/Dracula books in the future which I am unaware of, I don't know that the Dracula framing sequences were necessary, skipping them could have meant drawing out the story a little bit, which would not have been a bad thing.
The gist of the story is that Raizo's family is at war with an enemy warlord who only attacks at night and is personally unstoppable in battle as well as capable of seemingly superhuman feats. He and his brother are attempting to sneak into the enemy camp and learn what they can about this strange enemy. Of course the bad guy turns out to be a vampire and they end up fighting with him and win, but not before Raizo's brother is infected with vampirism. He spreads that vampirism to the whole family and Raizo has to do his duty and destroy them. In the process he himself becomes a vampire and can't bring himself to commit the ritual suicide that his honor demands thus unleashing him on the world as a powerful Samurai vampire.
The story seems short but, this is a one shot, although, I wouldn't mind seeing this particular vampire turn up in the Marvel U again, perhaps as some great vampire lord other than Dracula or as a rival to him.
The art is not great but it is good and very effective at telling the story. The story itself is only disappointing because it is short. It has all of the elements that go into telling a good vampire story (except that it isn't particularly scary, though, really, few comic books ever are) but unfortunately there isn't enough space to fully flesh it out. Still it fires my imagination and I can't help but think that it would have made a great novel or movie.
These days the comic books that I read are so tied in to whatever the current cross over is or so dependent on the mythology of the universe that they take place in that you don't often get to see a nice little stand alone story that is just fun to read. Some of that is marketing, some if it is because back when there used to be a lot of horror anthology books out there; most of the stories were not particularly memorable. This one however will stick with me for awhile.
For me, part of what makes a story good is great characterization and while this story, by virtue of the limitations of being brief, fails to achieve great characterization, it did make me want to know more and that's half the battle. The sad reality is that I doubt there will be more Raizo stories and really, I would like to have known a lot more about all of the characters in the story, from the vampire warlord to Raizo's family and his fiancé. Now, I'll admit that the story was a bit formulaic, nothing took me by surprise, but what can I say, I like the formula. This would have been better as a twelve issue limited series.
That said, if Marvel were going to do more with vampires, I'd love to see a revived Tomb of Dracula with a creative team as good as the guys who did it back at its peak. It has sort of surprised me that Blade has gotten better updating over the years than Dracula has, no doubt because of the influence of the Wesley Snipe movies but come on, Blade was born in Tomb of Dracula and if there is more interest in Blade than Dracula these days, that interest should be used to reboot Tomb. However, not only has every attempt to re-spark Dracula been half hearted, almost all attempts to revive blade have been just as half hearted even with the new fan base created by the movies.