Sunday, October 13, 2019

Dracula vs. Zorro #1

Halloween 2019 Post-A-Day 13
Dracula vs. Zorro #1

Rapiers versus Fangs


Story – Don McGregor
Penciler – Tom Yeats
Inker – Rick Magyar
Colorist – Sam Parsons
Letterer– John Costanza
Editor – Jim Salicrup & Dwight Jon Zimmerman
October 1993

Day Four of Dracula week takes us over to Topps comics doing their bit for crossover and public domain characters. Both leads in this versus were free to use, so Topps decided to try its hand at doing a crossover. While nothing came of it on the Dracula front, it did become a lead-in to an ongoing Zorro title. The solo Zorro series that followed got 11 issues, which isn’t exactly a success, but our swashbuckler will take it.

And this two-issue mini did seem a good idea given the relative timeframe both characters inhabited. It was easy to pair these two off against each other, compared to say two public domain characters who were a century apart. But does this first issue end up better than the other “swords vs sucks”?

Let’s take a peek and see. We begin with showing our principal characters in an overlapping fashion similar to how KA vs. D did it, alternating each one’s story one page at a time. The juxtaposition isn’t as tight here, however the individual storylines make sense and do build toward the second issue showdown in a logical manner. 

First up is Zorro abroad in Toledo, Spain. He is having a “Moorish Master of Swordmaking” craft him a sword of near mythic properties. 

Then we flip over to our homeboy Vlad as he wakes up ready to get his drink on. I like the color scheme used here, but something needed to be done about those violet textboxes. They make the narrative hard to read. Not that Vlad’s isn’t anything we aren’t familiar with. You’ll see what I mean in a few pages.

While back in our Toledo storyline, the villagers are a cowardly suspicious lot who think master craftsman Rambak consorts with devils. Totally not true, but he does seem to be working with masked vigilantes. Bet those two things will lead to something.

And speaking of leading to something, ole’ Drac is leading his butt out of Europe due to Napoleon’s incursions getting too close for comfort. But first….a lite snack perhaps?

While Vlad checks the cupboard, Zorro is trying out his new blade. A blade that I am pointing out was made with SILVER, a detail that will likely be important later. 

A friend of mine noted that since Zorro always makes his trademark “Z” that perhaps Dracula would have a sword and make a “V” for vampire, thus fouling up Zorro’s trademark-making attack. I stated that was silly, given that Dracula would surely make a “D”, not only because it fit his given name, but also because it would allow me to make a “He’s giving them the D” joke.

Sadly, no sword for Dracula this issue.

Meanwhile, Dracula has found a rather “tasty morsel”, if you catch my drift.

And we hop back to Zorro talking with Senor Rambak about how being Zorro has impacted his life and how much joy Diego takes from being a champion of justice.

Then we head back to Dracula looking like a sad Frank Zappa while becoming the focus of hatred and revulsion of the entire gypsy camp.

But all this talking and emoting needs to take a chill-pill. What the book really needs is some action. Action in the way of angry, superstitious villagers attacking Zorro’s ally.

And while Dracula worries about how many caskets of Transylvania soil he needs to keep secreted here and there to be truly safe…

…Zorro swings into action defending his friend with the razor-sharp edge of his flashing blade.

See what I mean about how these two stories don’t counter-point as well as the KA v D issue? And the Dracula side of this is just dragging along. Now we have him making travel plans with his loyal lacky, Skorka. Uh, yeah like we care?

And while those plot points and character introductions might be important, it is very hard to find a balance to that when the next page is exciting swordplay with Zorro taking on an entire mob of upset Spaniards. The tone suffers from this bouncing back and forth. As does the general feeling that Dracula is so low energy that he won’t pose a menace to the flashing blade of our good guy.

So, while Drac takes an actual dirtnap with some worms and grubs…

…Zorro likely causes this guy to soil himself by cutting his trademark “Z” right over his penis. Yeah, I’d run after seeing that too. Possibly while covering my crotch with my hands.

All of which sets up Don Diego leaving the next morning on a ship bearing the beautiful Carmelita Rodriguez bound for Spanish California. The build up here to Dracula being on the boat and Carmelita being the prize sought by both men is rather obvious.

But the beautiful splash page shows us Skorka loading his Master’s coffin on board just to be sure we note the setup.

And of course we have Diego being the consummate lady’s man, which makes this part all the more fun. 

As Skorka lurks nearby, noting Lady Carmelita’s beauty, Diego makes plans for a nighttime rendezvous on deck that evening.

Night arrives and Skorka awaits his master’s un-boxing. By the way, those worms are kinda a gross addition to the vampire mythos.

Skorka breaks down the 411 for Dracula about Carmelita’s walking buffet while Diego prepares to go a’courting.

But when El Zorro’s alter-ego arrives on deck, he finds Carmelita in the arms of a much uglier-looking man.

Diego senses something is off with this greasy haired stranger immediately. Perhaps he’s got a few of those worms still dangling off of him or the fact that his clothes are covered in dirt. Either way, we get this epic face-off of our two antagonists which speaks volumes. Kuddos on the art in this, by the way. It’s easy to see Dracula giving off a creepy man vibe and Diego as a shining knight. 

And now the back and forth ping-pong match for Carmelita begins between the two men. Dracula is as otherworldly sinister as Diego is charming…

But of course Diego’s charms are not backed by supernatural powers. Round one goes to Dracula as he insists that Carmelita send her protector away…and the lady has no will but to comply with that request.

Diego senses something amiss in all this and dons his cape and mask. Immediately taking to the masts to better view the woman who spurned him and her new coldly evil suitor, Zorro prepares to leap into action.

But even he can’t move fast enough to prevent Dracula from getting in a quick nip…

…or maybe two…

…or a threeee! How many sucks does it take to get to the center of a Spanish countess?

Luckily, we may not have to find out as El Zorro slides into action…

…and beginning an epic confrontation with the inhuman Count Dracula that is unfortunately continued next issue…

Art in this issue is amazing and the story, while having some rough parts as far as balance in the introductions, is pretty easy to follow. Will the countess survive? Will Zorro’s blade prove Dracula’s undoing? How will Zorro and the Count’s retainers factor in to the battle unfolding? These are all questions I’d like answers to. And given this didn’t drag on for more than one more issue, likely finding a complete set of these two isn’t out of the question for most of us.

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