June 27, 2015
In 1966, Dell Comics jumped into the horror genre and launched a trio of comics based on the classic monsters Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and The Wolf Man.
Um, sort of not really.
Thankfully, this only lasted 3 issues. I’ll let Wikipedia handle this (their motto: “One day we too will have standards”) because writing about this Dracula abomination this close to the passing of Christopher Lee is just too hard.
Dracula is a modern day direct descendant of the original Count Dracula now working as a medical researcher in the old family castle in Transylvania where, due to his experiments to develop a cure for brain damage using a serum developed from bat blood, he accidentally gains strange “vampire”-like powers including the ability to turn into a bat and superhuman sight and hearing. He decides to embark on a superhero career in order to redeem his family name, developing his body through diet and exercise to the peak of physical perfection and designing himself his own distinctive crimson-cowled purple costume with a bat-shaped gold belt buckle, after which he vows to fight evil and superstition in all its forms.
Leaving for America after the local peasants burn down his castle, he adopts the secret identity of “Al U. Card” (a hastily chosen pseudonym short for “Aloyisius Ulysses Card”). In issue #4, his girlfriend and confidante, blond socialite B.B. Beebe, gains the same powers and became his blue-clad sidekick Fleeta (from “fledermaus”, the German word for bat), bringing to the team not only a black belt in judo but also an abandoned hidden underground government radar installation/bomb shelter on her family’s mountain estate that Dracula uses as his secret laboratory lair.
While I always felt that Dracula lacked judo skills, they may have gone a bit too far in the superhero direction. For the record, I paid 99 cents for all three issues in pdf form and I feel overcharged by about 68 cents.
Of all the bold fashion choices Frankenstein made, I am most impressed by the green skin of the head contrasted with the healthy beige skin of the arms. I chose this cover because it also has a kid sitting on the back of a gorilla. This comic has it all! (DISCLAIMER: This comic has less, much much less, than “all.”) This was another 3 issue wonder. And I have to believe that 3 issues was 3 too many.
Take it away, Wikipedia!
Created in 1866 by a reclusive scientist referred to only as “the Doctor” who endowed him with a superior intellect and the strength of fifty men, Frankenstein lay dormant for over a hundred years under the ruins of an abandoned castle near the large modern American metropolis of Metropole City. Upon awakening thanks to a convenient lightning bolt, he dons a lifelike rubber mask to hide the fact that his white-haired and black-browed head has pale green skin (the rest of his tall, muscular body has a normal Caucasian flesh tone) and takes the name “Frank Stone”, a pseudonym inspired by a fallen chunk of masonry with the word “FRANK” engraved in it.
Befriending elderly millionaire philanthropist Henry Knickerbocker after rescuing him from a traffic accident (and who, by an amazing coincidence, is the son of a man who had been his long-dead creator’s friend and business partner), when the old man dies from a heart attack he leaves his “nephew” Frank his vast fortune, allowing him the financial freedom to devotes his life to being a scarlet-suited superhero.
Only his devoted butler William knows his secret, although neighboring blond busybody Miss Ann Thrope suspects that handsome brown-haired playboy Frank Stone is really the secret identity of the crew cut and craggy-faced crimefighter Frankenstein and is constantly trying to prove it. His archenemy is the amazingly “Mini-Me”-like midget mad scientist Mr. Freek who likes to ride around on the shoulders of his huge and extremely powerful pet gorilla Bruto.
I could have gotten this in pdf also, but I was still shell-shocked from Dracula and couldn’t bring myself to spend another cent.
Kudos to Dell for making the Werewolf look like an actual wolf. But the kudos end there.
After crashing his experimental aircraft in the Arctic Circle, USAF pilot Major Wiley Wolf develops amnesia and goes feral, living with a group of wolves after saving one he names Thor, who from then on becomes his constant companion. Spending six months lost in the Canadian wilderness, he eventually gets his memory back, and after being rescued he resigns his Air Force commission, saying he has been changed by his experiences amongst his lupine friends and that he now realizes too many people are like the insane wolves who occasionally take over the pack and cause untold damage to the world around them and that he wants to help mankind somehow against these mad wolves in human form.
With most everyone who ever knew him believing him to be dead, he’s recruited by the CIA along with the loyal Thor into the intelligence agency’s Top Priority Unit One as its sole operative. Trained to the peak of physical perfection and instructed in the latest self defense and espionage techniques, he is given special hypnotic treatments that allow him to mentally alter his facial features to any number of preprogrammed “physiognomical disguises” with a minimum of make-up.
Then a miniaturized radio transmitter is surgically implanted in his throat that allows him to secretly communicate with the now highly trained Thor across great distances thanks to a similar receiver device implanted in the wolf’s skull.
Finally, in addition to the usual James Bond-style gadgets, the CIA also provides Wolf with a one-of-a-kind high-tech stealth suit which is completely black and covers him from head to toe, making him resemble some eerie faceless shadow-like living silhouette. While the special polymer material it is made of is only a single molecule thick, the suit renders him virtually bulletproof and protects him from chemicals and gases with the mask containing a special oxygen extraction system that allows him to breathe underwater at any pressure depth. The suit’s strangest feature, however, is its ability to make the soles of its feet friction-free, allowing him to “skate” across any surface at speeds so fast that, aided by the light absorptive qualities of his garb, he is virtually invisible (said soles can also take on adhesive qualities to aid in climbing).
Now code-named “Werewolf”, the super-agent uses his special abilities to fight the enemies of freedom and democracy around the world, his top secret missions ranging from sabotaging missile bases in Cuba to battling the Red Chinese agent Sing Lo who has trained porpoises to spy on American submarines off the coast of Scotland.
When not on duty, Wiley relaxes with Thor in the secret solitude of his isolated mountaintop retreat which he leaves when summoned into action via a hidden underwater tunnel. His beautiful blond CIA contact is Judy Bowman.
Wait, what, that wolf on the cover isn’t him? That coal golem is the Werewolf? And his name is “Wiley Wolf”? Really? Three issues was too much for this.