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: Dracula vs Zorro
(Click to go to the release post)Writer(s)
: Don McGregor
(Click to see other books from this writer released on this site)Review source
: The Masked Bookwyrm
(Don't click it, read the review here...
) " It's a pretty rudimentary plot that doesn't really warrant the length"Review
In the 1990s, long time trading card company, Topps, made efforts to become a genuine comic book company. One property they latched onto was Zorro, who in addition to starring in his own (short-lived) series (which introduced the cult heroine, Lady Rawhide) also landed a mini-series or two. One of which was Dracula vs. Zorro (Topps was also in the midst of doing a few Dracula-themed comics).More info
Written by Don McGregor, whose association with "The Fox" of Old California included not only the Topps monthly series, but a short-lived run published by NBM, and a Zorro newspaper comic strip, and drawn by Tom Yeates (who also drew some of the Zorro newspaper strip), the premise has Zorro in Europe, picking up a sword crafted by a master swordmaker (and alchemist) and finding himself on a sea vessel where his other passengers include a lovely Senorita...and Dracula, lord of vampires.
Beginning his career in the early 1970s at Marvel Comics when a lot of newcomers to the field were pushing the conventions of comics in terms of themes and pretentiousness, Don McGregor's scripts tend to be overwritten and pompous, full of purple prose and dense captions full of ruminations on life and love. When it works, it works well, creating lyrical, thoughtful comics that are so much more than just the surface action...when it doesn't, it can just seem ridiculously verbose and without subtlety. I tend to be in McGregor's corner, liking some of his stuff, even as I'm aware even his best stuff can be erratic (not unlike, say, Ann Nocenti).
But the problem with this story (and, indeed, some of McGregor's other later work) is there's a feeling he's trying too hard to milk thoughtful captions out of material that doesn't really have that much juice in it. As well, the plot is pretty basic, much of the action taking place on the ship, in one night. (In fact, for all that dialogue seems to intimate it's a passenger ship...we don't actually see any other passengers on board!)
The nature of McGregor's analytical style is that relatively minor scenes can get stretched out far more than they warrant, and fight scenes can spread over multiple pages -- hence why he can get sixty-one pages out of a story where not too much happens. And by changing the milieu, we lose some sense of what makes Zorro...Zorro; that is, by being in Europe or an the high seas, it lacks that Old California presence that is as much a character of the Zorro saga as he is. McGregor did it, presumably, to make the story fresh and off-beat but, as I say, it's problematic. Now that's ironic because, conversely, another criticism is that as a Dracula story...it just seems like a stock Dracula story, with nothing particularly interesting or unusual to the story.
Funnily enough, Marvel Comics did a Spider-Man comic in the 1970s in which Spidey and Dracula...are on a sea vessel together (yet I actually think there was more twists to the plot in that 30-page Spider-Man comic than this 61 page saga).
With that being said, McGregor does do some nice stuff with characterization, with trying to flesh out his limited cast (which basically is Zorro, Dracula, Senorita Carmelita and Dracula's henchman Skorka).Yet even then, the limited plot means McGregor more tells us about the characters than shows us. The scene where Zorro, as Don Diego, first meets Dracula and they get into a verbal sparring match is well done. McGregor threads a theme, by having the Senorita casually say to Don Diego that no one can "promise" to keep someone safe, and those words echo in Zorro's mind when later he is trying to defend her from Dracula -- but even that becomes a bit thin by virtue of its repetition.
Despite McGregor's clear love for the Zorro character (having written for the character in so many different venues) part of the problem is that his Zorro never fully comes together as a complex, intriguing hero (the way McGregor's Black Panther did). It's hard to milk nuance out of a guy whose defining characteristic is, well, that he's perpetually upbeat!
Tom Yeates' art is certainly decent (and with some cute touches, like making the henchman look like Boris Karloff)...without quite being exceptional. I think of Yeates as having a vaguely sketchy style, evocative slightly of Joe Kubert, which can be quite attractive. But maybe Magyar's firmer inks rob it of some of that flavour (which, over some artists' pencils, can be beneficial). Or maybe being presented in colour it loses some of the stark appeal it had in the Zorro newspaper comic strip.
The bottom line? If you're looking for a stand alone tale of Zorro (or Dracula) it is that. And for all my negativity, in the telling -- writing and art -- it's a perfectly okay. I don't think it's appreciated much over the years, so it should be cheap enough to acquire. But it's a pretty rudimentary plot that doesn't really warrant the length, even with McGregor's efforts to pad things out with character and philosophical musings.
Written by Don McGregor.Publisher
Pencils by Tom Yeates.
Inks by Rick Magyar.
Colours: Sam Parsons.
Letters: John Costanza.
Editors: Jim Salicrup, Dwight Jon Zimmerman.