Great Moments in Comic Book History #31: Tomb of Dracula #43


In Tomb of Dracula #43 (April, 1976), a reporter named Paul Butterworth discovered the existence of not only Dracula but also the people (like Blade, Frank Drake, and Rachel Van Helsing) who were trying to stop his reign of terror.

Paul thought it would make a good story but he knew he needed proof so, when he met Dracula, he was sure to take a few photographs.  The joke was on Paul because vampires can’t be photographed!  When Paul’s editor sees the blank photos, he demotes Paul to doing the helpful hints column.

Not a bad story.  Tomb of Dracula was always at its best when it brought in “normal” characters and allowed them to interact with Dracula and the vampire hunters.  Paul Butterworth never made another appearance but he was still a part of the series’ overall mythology.

However, the thing that made this issue great was the cover.  Illustrated by Bernie Wrightson, this cover may not have much to do with the story but it perfectly captures the feel of Tomb of Dracula.

Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:

  1. Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” 
  2. The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
  3. Crisis on Campus
  4. “Even in Death”
  5. The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
  6. Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
  7. Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
  8. Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe
  9. The Death of Dr. Druid
  10. To All A Good Night
  11. Zombie!
  12. The First Appearance of Ghost Rider
  13. The First Appearance of Werewolf By Night
  14. Captain America Punches Hitler
  15. Spider-Man No More!
  16. Alex Ross Captures Galactus
  17. Spider-Man And The Dallas Cowboys Battle The Circus of Crime
  18. Goliath Towers Over New York
  19. NFL SuperPro is Here!
  20. Kickers Inc. Comes To The World Outside Your Window
  21. Captain America For President
  22. Alex Ross Captures Spider-Man
  23. J. Jonah Jameson Is Elected Mayor of New York City
  24. Captain America Quits
  25. Spider-Man Meets The Fantastic Four
  26. Spider-Man Teams Up With Batman For The Last Time
  27. The Skrulls Are Here
  28. Iron Man Meets Thanos and Drax The Destroyer
  29. A Vampire Stalks The Night
  30. Swamp Thing Makes His First Cover Appearance

Great Moments In Comic Book History #30: Swamp Thing Makes His First Cover Appearance


Swamp Thing made his first appearance in DC’s House of Secrets #92 (July, 1971).  It was a stand-alone story that was set in the early 20th century.  It did not have much in common with the Swamp Thing that was all know today but the issue will always be remembered for its cover, which was drawn by Bernie Wrightson.  The girl who is coming her hair while Swamp Thing approaches was modeled on Louise Jones, who would later be known as Louise Simonson and would become an important comic book writer in her own right.

Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:

  1. Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” 
  2. The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
  3. Crisis on Campus
  4. “Even in Death”
  5. The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
  6. Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
  7. Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
  8. Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe
  9. The Death of Dr. Druid
  10. To All A Good Night
  11. Zombie!
  12. The First Appearance of Ghost Rider
  13. The First Appearance of Werewolf By Night
  14. Captain America Punches Hitler
  15. Spider-Man No More!
  16. Alex Ross Captures Galactus
  17. Spider-Man And The Dallas Cowboys Battle The Circus of Crime
  18. Goliath Towers Over New York
  19. NFL SuperPro is Here!
  20. Kickers Inc. Comes To The World Outside Your Window
  21. Captain America For President
  22. Alex Ross Captures Spider-Man
  23. J. Jonah Jameson Is Elected Mayor of New York City
  24. Captain America Quits
  25. Spider-Man Meets The Fantastic Four
  26. Spider-Man Teams Up With Batman For The Last Time
  27. The Skrulls Are Here
  28. Iron Man Meets Thanos and Drax The Destroyer
  29. A Vampire Stalks The Night

Great Moments In Comic Book History #29: A Vampire Stalks The Night


Now that we are halfway to October, I decided to share my personal favorite cover from The Tomb of Dracula.

The Tomb of Dracula was a comic book that ran for 70 issues, from 1972 to 1979. It was published by Marvel and it’s generally considered to be one of the best of the horror comics. It was also the first comic book to feature the character of Blade, who was later brought to life by Wesley Snipes in one of the first successful films to be based on a Marvel comic.

I’m a Tomb of Dracula fan and a collector. I’ve got nearly every issue of Tomb of Dracula and it’s companion magazine, Dracula Lives. Below is my favorite cover:

Great Moments In Comic Book History #28: Iron Man Meets Thanos and Drax The Destroyer


50 years ago, in Iron Man #55, both Drax the Destroyer and Thanos made their first appearances.

Iron Man #55 opens with Drax the Destroyer being held prisoner on Thanos’s mobile prison planet.  This Drax is far different from the Drax who became famous as a result of being a part of the MCU.  This Drax is a former Earthling who was killed by Thanos but then resurrected and given one mission, to kill Thanos.  There’s nothing funny, not even unintentionally, about his Drax.  Knowing that Drax will not stop until he has destroyed him, Thanos has chained Drax up and spends his spare time taunting him.  Just because Thanos is evil, that doesn’t make him smart.

Drax sends out a mental message to Iron Man, despite the fact that he and Iron Man have never met.  Tony Stark agrees to help Drax because Drax’s messages are so powerful that Tony can’t even attend a business meeting.  After suiting up as Iron Man, Stark flies out to Thanos’s prison planet.  Along the way, Drax tells him the abbreviated details of Thanos’s origin and Thanos’s love of death.

Iron Man’s fist meeting with Thanos is not particularly auspicious.

Thanos thinks so little of Iron Man that he assigns the moronic aliens known as the Blood Brothers to battle Iron Man.  Iron Man is able to free Drax, the Blood Brothers are easily defeated, and Thanos makes a hasty retreat.  Drax thanks Iron Man, shakes his hand, and then heads after Thanos.  And I suppose Iron Man gets back to Earth somehow.

Thanos and Drax were created by Jim Starlin, who wasn’t even Iron Man’s regular writer.  When the planned story for Iron Man #55 ended up running behind schedule, Starlin was assigned to create a filler story.  Thanos and Drax were both characters that Starlin had invented for a planned-but-never-written sci-fi epic in college.  Starlin reused them and their origins in Iron Man #55.

Though thrown together at the last minute, Iron Man #55 predicted the future of Marvel in a way that, even at the time, few realized.  When Starlin took over Captain Marvel, he reused both Drax and Thanos and crafted an epic space opera that was later reused during phase one of the MCU.  For all the credit that was given to Kevin Feige, the Russo brothers, Stan Lee, and countless others, the MCU owes much of its success to Jim Starlin.

And it all began with Iron Man #55 running behind schedule.

IRON MAN #55 (October, 1972)
Writer: Jim Starlin/Mike Friedrich
Penciler: Jim Starlin
Inker: Mike Esposito
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Roy Thomas

Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:

  1. Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” 
  2. The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
  3. Crisis on Campus
  4. “Even in Death”
  5. The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
  6. Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
  7. Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
  8. Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe
  9. The Death of Dr. Druid
  10. To All A Good Night
  11. Zombie!
  12. The First Appearance of Ghost Rider
  13. The First Appearance of Werewolf By Night
  14. Captain America Punches Hitler
  15. Spider-Man No More!
  16. Alex Ross Captures Galactus
  17. Spider-Man And The Dallas Cowboys Battle The Circus of Crime
  18. Goliath Towers Over New York
  19. NFL SuperPro is Here!
  20. Kickers Inc. Comes To The World Outside Your Window
  21. Captain America For President
  22. Alex Ross Captures Spider-Man
  23. J. Jonah Jameson Is Elected Mayor of New York City
  24. Captain America Quits
  25. Spider-Man Meets The Fantastic Four
  26. Spider-Man Teams Up With Batman For The Last Time
  27. The Skrulls Are Here

Great Moments In Comic Book History #27: The Skrulls Are Here


Just a few months after introducing themselves to the world, the Fantastic Four appear to be on a crime rampage!  The Thing swims out to an oil rig and knocks it over with one punch.  The Human Torch melts a memorial.  The Invisible Girl steals jewelry.  And when New York suffers a huge blackout, witnesses report seeing an arm stretching it’s way into a powerplant and flipping the off switch!

The Fantastic Four claim that they’re innocent and it turns out that they are.  Four shape-shifting aliens, known as the Skrulls, have traveled to Earth and are pretending to be the Fantastic Four so that the government will turn on them and it will be easier for the Skrulls to take over the planet.  Fortunately, Mr. Fantastic figures out what’s going on.  Not only does he fool the Skrull commanders by showing them back issues of Journey Into Mystery and Strange Tales and saying that they’re actual newspapers about the monsters that exist on earth but he also hypnotizes three of the Skrulls on Earth and convinces them that they are cows.

I’ve always liked the Skrulls and it’s always bothered me that they seemed to lose almost every war that they got involved in.  How could the Kree defeat the Skrulls?  And was it necessary to add insult to injury by having Galactus eat their homeworld?  The Skrulls just could not catch a break and I think that’s one reason why they’ve always been popular.  With their ability to change their shape and adopt the powers of the heroes that they’re imitating, the Skrulls should have been unstoppable.  They should have conquered this planet a long time ago.  But the Skrulls, for all of their powers, could just never seem to get it together.  To paraphrase Uncle Ben, with great power comes truly rotten luck.

Fantastic Four #2 was not only the first appearance of the Skrulls but it was also the first instance of a Marvel super hero team thwarting an invasion of Earth.  (Eventually, Earth being invaded would become a monthly occurrence in the Marvel Universe.)  The issue also introduced a major Marvel theme.  The Fantastic Four may have saved the world from Mole Man just a few weeks before the Skrulls arrived but it didn’t take long for the general public to turn on them.  It was a lesson that would later also be learned by Spider-Man and the X-Men.  The general public is extremely fickle when it comes to its super heroes.

And it all started with four shape-shifters coming to Earth.  The Skrulls may never win but Marvel still owes much to them.

Fantastic Four Vol. 1 No. 2

(September, 1962)

“The Fantastic Four Meets The Skrulls From Outer Space”

Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: George Klein
Letters: John Duffy

Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:

  1. Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” 
  2. The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
  3. Crisis on Campus
  4. “Even in Death”
  5. The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
  6. Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
  7. Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
  8. Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe
  9. The Death of Dr. Druid
  10. To All A Good Night
  11. Zombie!
  12. The First Appearance of Ghost Rider
  13. The First Appearance of Werewolf By Night
  14. Captain America Punches Hitler
  15. Spider-Man No More!
  16. Alex Ross Captures Galactus
  17. Spider-Man And The Dallas Cowboys Battle The Circus of Crime
  18. Goliath Towers Over New York
  19. NFL SuperPro is Here!
  20. Kickers Inc. Comes To The World Outside Your Window
  21. Captain America For President
  22. Alex Ross Captures Spider-Man
  23. J. Jonah Jameson Is Elected Mayor of New York City
  24. Captain America Quits
  25. Spider-Man Meets The Fantastic Four
  26. Spider-Man Teams Up With Batman For The Last Time

Great Moments In Comic Book History #26: Spider-Man Teams Up With Batman For The Last Time


It’s easy to forget now but there was once a time when Marvel and DC would set aside their differences and their heroes (and sometimes, their villains) would team up.  Spider-Man met Superman.  The X-Men met the New Teen Titans.  Darkseid met Galactus.  Green Lantern met the Silver Surfer.  Silver Surfer met Batman.  Actually, a lot of Marvel heroes met Batman, everyone from the Hulk to Punisher to Daredevil to, again, Spider-Man.  It makes sense.  Batman, with his antisocial tendencies and his tragic backstory, had more in common with the typical Marvel hero than with Superman.

These events were never an official part of the Marvel or DC universe.  Both companies eventually developed their own version of the multiverse and it was accepted that the Marvel/DC crossovers all took place in an alternate universe where Gotham City and Metropolis existed alongside Marvel’s version of New York City.  Though these crossovers were not canonical, they always felt like a big deal.  They were a chance to answer the age-old question of who would win in a fight, Batman or Spider-Man.  It didn’t matter that the crossovers usually copped out on giving a definitive answer.  Usually, the heroes would fight to a draw and then team up to battle the real enemy.  That way both fandoms could be happy and there was still a reason to buy the next crossover.

The crossovers are something that will probably never happen again, not with the rivalry between the MCU and DCEU.  It’s too bad because the crossovers were always enjoyable.  The final Batman/Spider-Man crossover was called New Age Dawning and it was published twenty-five years ago, this month.  Batman’s villain, Ra’s al Ghul, poisoned the wife of Spider-Man’s villain, Kingpin.  Ra’s al Ghul thought he could blackmail the Kingpin into helping him sink the island of Manhattan.  Instead, the Kingpin teams up with Spider-Man and Batman to defeat Ra’s plan.  It’s a simple story but it ends on a note of grace, with Batman giving Spider-Man the cure for the poison and then Spider-Man taking it to the Kingpin.  If the Batman/Spider-Man crossovers had to end, that was the way to end them, with two heroes coming together to do the right thing.

Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:

  1. Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” 
  2. The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
  3. Crisis on Campus
  4. “Even in Death”
  5. The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
  6. Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
  7. Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
  8. Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe
  9. The Death of Dr. Druid
  10. To All A Good Night
  11. Zombie!
  12. The First Appearance of Ghost Rider
  13. The First Appearance of Werewolf By Night
  14. Captain America Punches Hitler
  15. Spider-Man No More!
  16. Alex Ross Captures Galactus
  17. Spider-Man And The Dallas Cowboys Battle The Circus of Crime
  18. Goliath Towers Over New York
  19. NFL SuperPro is Here!
  20. Kickers Inc. Comes To The World Outside Your Window
  21. Captain America For President
  22. Alex Ross Captures Spider-Man
  23. J. Jonah Jameson Is Elected Mayor of New York City
  24. Captain America Quits
  25. Spider-Man Meets The Fantastic Four