|...and also Lord of the Dance!|
Sometimes Dracula is a bit tough to take as the titular lead of his own ongoing book, at least if you ever expect that he’s going to be doing anything even remotely heroic. Sure, in this issue, he protects a vulnerable young widow from the wrath of her now-vampiric abusive ex, but that was only after he put the tooth to a young couple innocently fooling around in a barn and tried to assassinate another guy with lightning just for having a sass mouth. Still, at least we know he’s a feminist ally, I guess. Dracula – Social Justice Warrior.
Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula No.22 (“In Death Do We Join,” July 1974) pits the book’s go-getting young bloodsucker against Gorna, alleged Lord of the Lightning according to the cover of the book. This is a huge lie. Gorna has nothing to do with lightning, he never touches the stuff, he’s straight-edge for amperage. The closest he comes to having anything to do with lightning, in fact, comes about when Dracula calls down a torrent of the stuff to incinerate the mouthy Gorna when the two have an antagonistic rap battle in a Soviet cemetery. What he does like … is FIRE!
Before Gorna first flicks his magical Bic, however, the story takes us into the trials of Petra, Gorna’s former wife and victim of her husband’s insane jealousy and brutal temper. Believing herself freed following her husband’s seemingly supernatural death – he falls mysteriously ill after Petra prays for her hateful hubby’s untimely kicking of the bucket, proving with one stroke that both God and misandry are real – Petra instead is terrorized nightly by Gorna’s persistent rising from the grave.
It turns out that Gorna is a vampire himself, possessed of powers that rival even Dracula’s. This is bad news indeed, but not unexpected – at Gorna’s funeral, half the town turns out in skull-masks and ceremonial robes. Apparently aware of Gorna’s supernatural nature, the townsfolk undertake a series of rituals intended to keep the little pischer deep in the dirt. When the lunch whistle blows, though, the townies take off with the job half-done, opening the door for Gorna’s return. Unions, am I right? Psh.
Petra’s parents protect her as best they can, between slapping her in the middle of conversations for no good reason. In fact, slaphappy dad is responsible for landing a natural 20 on Gorna with the slightly more Metal version of the ol’ stake-through-the-heart … the FLAMING stake-through-the-heart!
Burned from the inside out and now resembling something not like a partly melted Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, Gorna returns to his graveyard where he finds Dracula waiting for him, itching for a rematch. Now wielding the power to create fire out of thin fire from his fingertips, Gorna has only one weakness – fire! Huh. Well. Whoops.
|This, however, was one of the most awesome two-page spreads I've ever encountered, even if the flames appeared to have been colored with a Sharpie.|
Following the most badass two-page spread in comics history and a pretty spectacular battle between the two wampyr, Dracula puts an end to Gorna with this theatrical sendoff: “Gorna Storski*, you have blasphemed your master … you lord, and so you must be punished … for if you cannot be held at bay by me, if you do no heed and obey my ever word, my every command, THEN BE DAMNED WITH YOU IN THE VERY FIRES OF YOUR OWN CREATION!” adding “Now, that as the flames consume you, that DRACULA is your GOD and Dracula is indeed a VENGEFUL GOD” and then he hucks Gorna into a flaming grave. ::holds up lighter::
*Of the Minsk Storskis, I assume
I assume you realize that you have just read the most baller kill lines in the history of comics, which is why I’m assuming Gorna has never been revived; It’d be a shame to put the lie to Dracula’s amazingly badass last words over Gorna’s smoldering corpse just to bring the guy back...