The Dracula Week In Ink: October 14, 2009

For the second shocking week in a row, it looks like none of the comics I picked up this week featured anyone getting kicked in the face, and while I was originally planning on going with a shot from Thor and Herc’s battle in Incredible Hercules (because really, an Asgardian kick to the junkules is almost as good), that was before I heard that there was actual vampire face-kicking in this week’s Detective Comics Annual:

 

 

Brother, if that doesn’t say Dracula Week on the ISB, then I don’t know what does. And for bonus points, that’s Looker, the inaugural Nobody’s Favorite doing the kicking.

And that brings us to another spoooooky Thursday night installment of the Internet’s Most Draculawesome Comics Reviews! But before we get around to that, a bit of my own special brand of bloodsucking!

The ISB Fall Fundraiser is going again, with a new round of stuff on eBay for your purchasing pleasure. So if you feel like jumping on some back issues and giving me your money in the process, here’s what I’ve got up:

Livewires #1-6: A very fun, very underrated series from Adam Warren.

Catwoman #1-37 and Secret Files: And speaking of underrated comics, this is the entire Ed Brubaker run on Catwoman, which was consistently one of the best books DC was putting out at the time. Gorgeous art from guys like Cooke and Stewart, fantastic super-hero noir storytelling.

Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters #1-3: Hey, remember that time that Black Canary got chained up and smacked around and Green Arrow killed some dudes? Well, you do now. (That description notwithstanding, Longbow Hunters is actually really good.)

Empire #1-6: Mark Waid and Barry Kitson do a story that’s essentially what happens when Dr. Doom wins.

A Big Ol’ Bunch of Final Crisis! Both covers for #1-7! Both covers for Superman Beyond #1 and #2! Actual 3D glasses that have been punched out and worn by your favorite non-Dave Campbell comics blogger! Don’t ask! Just buy it!

Irredeemable Ant-Man #1-12: Robert Kirkman and Phil Hester bring you the world’s most completely unlikeable (but surprisingly fun) super-hero!

Daredevil: Guardian Devil paperback signed by Kevin Smith: Title pretty much sums it up there, I think.

And finally, Birds of Prey #56-127 and Black Canary #1-4: This is the other half of my BoP run, and out of everything I’ve sold on eBay these past few weeks, this was the one I thought the most about hanging on to. This is a title I picked up longer than anything else I’ve read ever (108 issues monthly), and this stuff, which includes the entire Gail Simone run, was highly enjoyable.

Okay, plugging over, let’s get back to it! Here’s what I bought this week..

 

 

…and in a moment, I’ll let you know what I thought of them! But seeing as this is Dracula Week, this time we’re going to be doing things a little differently: By seeing how my comics stack up against the spectrum of vampires that make up… The Draculometer!

 

 

Yes, from the awesome intenisty of Blacula to the wispy shirtlessness of James From Team Rocket Jean-Claude from Anita Blake, vampires in popular culture vary pretty widely in quality, which makes them the perfect unit of greatness for a given comic! Or to put it another way, it’s exactly what I did during Bring It On Week, but with fangs! Now let’s get to it!

 


 

Adventure Comics #3: A few weeks ago, when the crew of War Rocket Ajax was invited to the Between the Panels podcast to talk about Blackest Night, I mentioned that there is a complete lack of subtlety endemic to Geoff Johns’s comics.

Now before I renew my hater status, I actually am enjoying Adventure Comics a lot–more than I was expecting to, in fact, as the Superboy story is turning out to be surprisingly strong. And to be fair, a lack of subtlety is not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, nobody was less subtle than Jack Kirby, and I could–and have–read his stuff all day and never get tired of it. But there’s a quirk that Johns has in his writing where every single thing not only has to have a deeper meaning, but that the deeper meaning has to be literally explained to the reader at the earliest opportunity.

In Blackest Night, it’s that Barry Allen can’t just be the Fastest Man Alive who’s always late because Kanigher and Broome thought that was a nice recurring gag, it has to be a deeper signifier of his character. And while that’s fine–and I actually do like it–having someone stand there shouting it to the reader is something that just grates on my nerves. The same thing happens in this issue with Robin. There’s a long, drawn-out conversation about why Tim Drake’s wearing the Red Robin costume that could’ve stopped after one line (“Not until Bruce is back”), but goes on for panel after panel, literalizing the metaphor for anyone too thick to figure it out themselves. And that’s what bugs me: It’s not just Johns telling you how clever he is for figuring this out, but also telling you that you couldn’t.

Which isn’t to say that Johns is wrong for doing so. He is, after all, writing for an audience that read a story where the first page had the words “BATMAN AND ROBIN WILL NEVER DIE!” and then complained when Batman didn’t die in it (not to mention their complaints about not being able to figure out who Dr. Hurt was when Batman literally says who he is in the last issue), so it’s safe to say that there’s a good chunk of them out there who don’t want to think too hard when they’re reading their funnybooks. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. Comics are meant to be fun, and having fun doesn’t always have to be hard work. But a good metaphor works even when it’s not spelled out, and there’s a definite difference between making something accessible and talking down to your readers, and when Johns has characters expound on how their past tragedies have led them to wear a particular pair of shoes, it feels a lot more like the latter.

Also, I will never understand why there’s an interest in having Krypto be a hassle. You want to talk about stuff that’s supposed to be fun? A flying dog is supposed to be fun, and instead we’ve got scenes where Superboy just can’t deal with him. He’s a source of angst. Krypto. The flying dog. A source of angst. I will never understand this.

But again: For all my grousing and complaints, Adventure has been a very fun read for the most part. To put it in Dracula Week terms, it ranks at a solid Spike From Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Better executed and far more enjoyable than than you think it’s going to be when it first shows up, but held back slightly by the annoyances of its quirks.

 

ISB BEST OF THE WEEK

 

 

Hector Plasm: Totentanz: Regular ISB readers won’t be surprised by this one, as I haven’t exactly been quiet about being a fan of Benito Cereno and Nate Bellegarde’s previous work, especially their earlier stuff on Hector. And like the first collection, De Mortuis, this one is the perfect Halloween comic.

It’s alternately spooky and fun, and while Benito’s stories are more fantastic examples of the zippy, well-researched work that get him compared to Mike Mignola all the time, it’s Nate, the Paul Pope of Comics, that really stands out as the star of this one. His art has never looked better, whether it’s in the incredible two-page riff on Edward Gorey that starts things off or the absolutely gorgeous “Hector Contre la Danse Macabre,”–the book’s longest story–he just shines. The expressiveness, the figure-work, the way he lays out the pages (the silent nine-panel grid with Hector, the Skeletons and a fiddle-playing Death is about as good as they get), everything comes together perfectly. It’s a book I’ve read five times since I picked it up yesterday, and I just can’t stop looking at it.

Plus the bonus features are fantastic. The one-page “costume guide” by Dean Trippe and Jason Horn is a hoot, and while I would gladly read Hector Plasm every month if it was coming out, I’d read John Campbell’s stick-figure Hector strips extra hard.

To refer back to the Draculometer, this thing is straight up Dracula Himself. Not just because it’s the best thing I picked up this week, but because–like Dracula–Benito and Nate have shown that they can work beautifully with Hector in any idiom, from comedy to horror to silent film pastiches set to 19th century French compositions to recipes. And yes: There are a surprising number of recipes in this book.

 

Incredible Hercules #136: I’m just going to put this out there: Incredible Herc is the single best comic on the stands today.

I realize that’s nothing I haven’t said before, but in addition to the new issue, I’ve been reading through the previous stories and something struck me that made me love this book even more: I’m pretty sure that Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente have been re-doing the Twelve Labors of Hercules without ever coming out and saying it.

It’s just a pet theory of mine, so I could be wrong–or on the flipside, I might just be the last person to realize it–but the way they’ve structured their stories is mirroring the setup of the original 12: Herc’s battle with the Hulk that started things off has the air of his first labor, the Nemean Lion, as both see him tackling a seemingly unbeatable foe (though Herc came off quite a bit better against the lion). Then there’s the story where he and Atlas have their rematch from the 11th Labor, and he unchains Cerebus during his trip to the underworld, undoing the 12th. Even the current storyline, where Herc romances the queen of a fantastic race for somewhat devious reasons, is a mirror for the 9th Labor.

It’s not a one-for-one comparison (the Secret Invasion issues were far more like his trip with the Argonauts rather than one of the Labors), and it’s all vague enough that I’m not sure if I’m right or not. There are references to Herc’s myths, of course, but no more than you’d expect from an ongoing starring the Lion of Olympus. But it’s obvious just from the books themselves that they’re drawing a lot on the original mythology, so if there is a conscious parallel to the labors, it’s one that’s pulled off very subtly, and that makes me like it even more.

But that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with why this particular issue is so fantastic, which has a lot more to do with its role in the Marvel Universe than in Greek mythology, namely in that it’s another great Thor/Hercules smackdown. The twist this time is that Herc and Thor are both dressed as each other, and given their history, that leads to some amazingly fun interplay between the characters that’s so good that it might just replace even Thor #356 (the great “Walt Simonson is on vacation, and so art thou” fill-in where Thor drops the entire island of Manhattan on Herc) as my favorite of the two.

And that’s why, in Dracula Week terms, Incredible Herc ranks in as Blacula. Both of them are drawing on disparate traditions–Blacula combining vampire movies and Blaxploitation, Herc with its Simonsonian blending of Myth and the Marvel Universe–to create something that’s truly incredible, and pure joy to experience.

 

Nomad: Girl Without a World #2: And speaking of things that take their inspiration from strange places, who would’ve thought that a solo series about the Rob Liefeld-created Heroes Reborn Bucky would end up being this enjoyable? When the first issue came out, I mentioned in passing that it was engaging and fun, and I’m glad to report that the second issue has continued along in that vein for a variety of reasons, including the fact that with Rikki Barnes now re-cast as Nomad, we don’t have to worry about Bucky 1.0 adopting that as his code-name at the end of Captain America Reborn.

But there’s a good chance I was the only one losing sleep over that, so let’s just stick to what’s giong on here: Not only does this one prove once again that Sean McKeever can do books about teenage Marvel super-heroes darn near perfectly, it also provides us with the return of one of my all-time favorite third-string villains: Flagsmasher.

Seriously, I love that guy. For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, he’s a legacy villain that carries on the tradition of the former leader of the Underground Liberated Totally Integrated Mobile Army To Unite Mankind (U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.), one of Marvel’s lesser known but still totally awesome acronymed hate groups. He carries a mace (which he presumably uses to smash flags), and his recent apperances have pretty much involved his ass getting handed to him by teenagers, which is a role that I’m perfectly comfortable with him having.

But really, he’s just icing on the cake here. McKeever’s doing great things on the script, carrying on the proud Marvel tradition of dropping big ol’ metaphors for teenage isolation in ways that could only work in a super-hero universe, and David Baldeon’s art style fits perfectly. It’s fun and good for the kids, but I get the feeling that it’s being sadly overlooked. So in Dracula Week terms, that makes Nomad our Count Chocula. One hopes that one day, Rikki Barnes too will decorate ironic t-shirts across this great land of ours.

 

Unwritten #6: This week’s issue of Unwritten opens up with two page of pullquotes from everyone from Fables writer Bill Willingham to ISB sidebar resident Blair Butler. And yet, even with two pages to fill, “Sandman without its head up its ass” didn’t make the cut. Oh well.

Regardless, after the enjoyable diversion of last month’s story about Kipling, this one’s back to the ongoing tale of Tom Taylor, and it’s as enjoyable as it ever was. I’ve talked quite a bit about Mike Carey’s scripting and the focus on literary trivia that he manages to not just work into the story, but make the main focus of the story without coming off as a pretentous know-it-all (no easy feat), but Peter Gross is doing an amazing job with the book, pulling off the neat trick himself of delivering clean-but-detailed art to the story. It’s excellent stuff, and I’m glad to see that–around my neck of the woods, anyway–a lot of people are really getting into it.

Engaging, fun, and even educational? Clearly, Unwritten will fit in quite nicely on the Draculomter as Count Von Count.

 

X-Men vs. Agents of Atlas #1: I’m going to keep this brief hre: This is a new series by Jeff Parker, and you all know how I feel about him. It’s about the Agents of Atlas and the X-Men, and you all know how I feel about them. It involves Wolverine fighting both a gorilla and a robot, and you all know how I feel about that. Carlo Pagulayan does the art, and given what you already know, you can probably figure out how I feel about his work, too.

(HINT: These are all very positive feelings)

To place our final book this week on the Draculometer, this one is a solid Count Orlock: Just as cool as Dracula, but with the added street cred that being an unlicensed bootleg vampire can get you.

 


 

And that’s the Dracula Week In Ink! As always, any questions or concerns can be left in the comments section below, and as I managed to disparage Geoff Johns and Joss Whedon, at the same time in this post, I imagine you’ve all got plenty to say, and I assure you that I will definitely not ignore it.

Dracula Week: Dracula’s Soul Brother!

As I’ve already established with my look at his myriad apperances in comics, Dracula’s status in the public domain is one of the best things about him. With such an iconic work to set his origin, the fact that anyone can do a story about him makes him one of the most perfect characters ever created, as he’s constantly being reinvented by creators who take the bits that they like and fashion him into their ideal version so that he can or be blown up by super-heroes in new and exciting ways.

And that, of course, means movies.

According to the Wikipedia, Big D’s been the subject of over 200 films, starting with Nosferatu and the 1931 Bela Lugosi picture that defined him for modern pop culture, and going all over the place from there. But there is only one franchise, one cinematic juggernaut inspired by the Lord of Vampires, that is rad enough to be featured on the ISB.

I speak, of course… of Blacula.

 

 

Long-time ISB readers will probably recall that I have an intense love for Blaxploitation movies, but even among those, Blacula is awesome. I mean, dude’s name is Blacula. BLACULA. That is the best name for anyone ever. If Batman had been named Blacula, Wertham would’ve been too scared to write Seduction of the Innocent, and that is a fact.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the gist, the original radio ad from 1972 sums things up pretty well:

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The short(er) version: Mamuwalde is an African prince who gets on Dracula’s bad side because the latter–as established in both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Marvel Comics–is crazy racist. Thus, he throws up the horns (really) and curses Mamuwalde to become Blacula, which somehow makes them “soul brothers,” because Blaxploitation radio spots are awesome.

He eventually shows up in the present (well, the present of 1972) and dies, and that brings us to the subject of tonight’s post: The 1973 sequel, Scream Blacula Scream! Why go with the sequel instead of the original? Two words, folks:

 

PAM GRIER

 

After Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, Slammin’ Pam is probably the most iconic star of the Blaxploitation era, starring in flicks like Coffy, Sheba Baby and the unforgettable Black Mama/White Mama (“A thousand nights without a man! A thousand reasons to kill!”), which led to a role in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, as his obsession with the ’70s makes pretty much everyone else seem like a piker. Here, she stars as Lisa, whose leadership of a group of voodoo enthusiasts is challenged by this guy:

 

 

This is Willis, and in addition to being one of the snappiest dressers in cinema history, he’s desperate enough for cult leadership that he decides it’s a good idea to purchase Mamuwalde’s bones from a local mystical artifacts dealer and resurrect them with his voodoo powers.

This, as we’ll soon see, is the second worst life choice made in this movie.

The voodoo works–as voodoo tends to do in Blaxploitation movies–and thus…

 

BLACULA LIVES AGAIN!

 

…and he promptly snacks on the fashion-conscious Willis, who quickly learns the downside of undeath once he looks in a mirror:

Willis: Hey man I don’t mind bein’ a vampire and all that shit, but this really ain’t hip! I mean a man has GOT to see his face! Shiiiiit!

After you get past the pretty rude way that he repays Willis for resurrecting him and his bitchin’ ‘stache–a common look among 70s vampires, apparently–the thing you’ll notice about Blacula is just how good William Marshall is in the role.

It’s not that surprising–Marshall was an accomplished stage actor who was called “the greatest Othello of our time” by the London Sunday Times–but this is the sequel to a Blaxploitation horror movie. He could’ve gotten by with a lot less (or a lot more; if he wanted to go for the all-out scenery chewing route, nobody would’ve blamed him) but he plays it with a note-perfect craftsmanship that’s striking.

When he threatens to rip out Willis’s heart for disobedience, his matter-of-fact statement is genuinely sinister, and when he’s introducing himself to Pam Grier at a party as an expert in African art–thankfully going by his real name rather than “Alucalb”–he comes off as effortlessly charming.

Plus, his delivery is fantastic. It’s worth a rental just for this scene:

 

 

Pimp: Your bread, man, all of it! Or are we gonna have to become anti-social and kick your ass?

Blacula: I’m sorry, I don’t have any… “bread” on me, and as for “kicking my ass”… I’d strongly suggest you give it careful consideration before trying.

And then Blacula backhands him through a plate glass window. I love this movie so hard, you guys.

Of course, it’s not all defenestrating pimps and macking on Pam Grier so that she uses her voodoo powers to remove his curse, there’s also murder. I mean, he is a vampire after all. Of course, the police are blissfully unaware of this fact, and so when bloodless cadavers, they immediately assume that it’s our friendly local cultists sacrificing people for their rituals.

Now look. I’m not the world’s greatest detective or anything, but even if you don’t believe in vampires, when corpses start showing up drained of blood, you might want to check out the new guy who just arrived in town and who is currently rocking a black cape with a red satin lining. Just sayin’.

Eventually, the police do tumble to the fact that a Blacula is in their midst, and they set about hunting him, armed with actual stakes from a white picket fence…

 

 

…in what is either great symbolism about the Man using a literal piece of the American dream to hunt down a black man who only wants to be freed of the curse he’s been suffering from for generations, or the workings of a cheap prop department. It could go either way, really.

Also, remember when I said that resurrecting Blacula was the second-worst life choice in this movie? Well, this guy called Blacula “uppity.”

 

 

And yep. That’s actually worse.

Eventually, the cops break in on the ritual and ruin Blacula’s chances of getting his curse removed, and when Blacula–as you might expect–goes banana, Pam ends up staking the voodoo doll, destroying Blacula for the second and final time by virtue of taking the doll from mint-on-card to a good-minus.

But still, the legend lives on, both in Mamuwalde himself–who was apparently mentioned in Anno Dracula, which makes me want to read it even more than a recommendation from Jess Nevins–and in the legacy that he’s given to this man:

 

Jefferson Twilight: Blacula Hunter

 

Truly… he is Blaculawesome.

 


 

BONUS FEATURE: If You Seein’ What Ain’t…

 

While I like the radio spots for Blacula and Scream Blacula Scream a lot, one of the all-time greats comes from director William Crain’s lesser known Blaxploitation horror flick, Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, which bursts from the speakers with a series of over-the-top rhymes that would make even Dolemite proud:

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Super-strong, supernatural and super bad.

Dracula Week Hits ComicsAlliance: Down For The Count!

You know, Marvel Comics would have you believe that there’s only one Lord of the Vampires…

 

 

…but really, there’s like 26.

Yes, his status as a public domain character means that he can be used in pretty much anything, and today on ComicsAlliance, Dracula Week rises from the grave to stalk a new land as I round up my favorite comic book Draculas, ranking them all by how Draculawesome they are!

Marvel Dracula’s in there of course–and ranked near the top for his tireless work in keeping the word “clod” in circulation–alongside Racist Dracula and the ill-fated Super-Hero Dracula, but there’s one version of Big D that sprang to mind that I didn’t include:

Dracula-That-Fought-Superman-That-One-Time Dracula

 

 

The reasons for his non-inclulsion are pretty simple–he only appeared the once in a story that is not very good–but there are a few notable things about him that are still worth mentioning, not the least of which is the pretty awesome Ed McGuinness cover that fools me every time into thinking that this issue is going to be totally awesome:

 

 

Unfortunately, this Jeph Loeb/Ian Churchill joint leaves quite a bit to be desired, though to be fair, it’s not entirely their fault. The issue comes from a weird, extremely forgettable time in the Superman books and seems rooted in bridging the previous storyline–the eminently disposable Our Worlds at War crossover–with the then-current buildup for Superman’s battle with one of the many General Zods, who this time ended up being a Russian clone of Superman in a power-suit or something. It was stupid, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re better for it.

Point being, there’s a lot in this comic that detracts from the simple beauty that a story where Superman fights Dracula should’ve had. Not that the stuff is on topic is all that great either: The reveal that the mysterious Count Rominoff is in fact Dracula is played in-story as something of a surprise reveal despite the fact that the cover says “Superman vs. Dracula” in huge letters; Lois refuses to believe in vampires to the point where she tells her husband, the super-powered alien from space who hangs out with a Greek goddess and the king of Atlantis, that he’s being silly to even think of such things; and it builds to a last-page reveal of an all-new, all-different Creature Commandos…

 

 

….who were never seen again.

Plus, Lois decides it’s a good idea to dine with foreign dignitaries while wearing a sluttier version of Andre the Giant’s ring attire.

So where’s this allegedly neat idea I mentioned earlier? Well, unlike the Dracula of Red Rain (whose plan amounts to “Fight Batman and see how that works out for me”), this version has an idea that’s not half bad: He’s planning to take advantage of Superman’s weakness to magic to turn him into one of his thralls. Thus, he leads Lois Lane into his clutches by faking a news story, then puts her in danger, counting on Superman to save her because Superman always saves Lois Lane. Then, once that all happens, he hits him with the hypno-eyes.

All in all, not a bad plan. But as Superman is powered by the energy of Earth’s yellow sun, Dracula takes one bite…

 

 

…and his head explodes.

I gotta say, I still think that’s a pretty fun idea. It’s just a shame it’s in a story with all the rest of it.

Dracula Week: The Batman vs. Dracula!

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good Theme Week here on the ISB, so as Spooktoberfest creeps along on the scarifying drive to Halloween, I’m declaring this to be Dracula Week! Seven days of posts revolving around the Lord of the Vampires, and like so many things in my life, it all starts with Batman:

 

 

Released direct to DVD in 2005, The Batman vs. Dracula was a Halloween tie-in to the then-current animated series, The Batman.

Of all of Batman’s TV franchises, The Batman was the one that I’ve never really gotten into. It’s not that I have anything against it really, but it always seemed to air at an inconvenient time and what little of it I have seen didn’t really inspire me to make the effort to catch it, though in fairness, that’s probably more of a product of my affection for Batman: The Animated Series than anything else.

I will admit, though, that the character designs aren’t quite to my taste. The show’s animation is actually very well done–I’ll get to that in a minute once Batman starts beating up the elderly–but between the title character’s marked resemblance to a young Judge Dredd…

 

 

…and Rastafarian Joker (about whom the less said, the better), it just looks way more off-putting to me thanBruce Timm’s Fleisher-inspired designs or The Brave and the Bold‘s retro-’66 style.

Still, when you get right down to it, anything called The Batman vs. Dracula should be totally awesome. In practice, though, it falls a little short. It’s still good, but a setup with as much potential as we have here ought to outstrip “good” by the time it leaves the opening credits.

The whole thing gets started when the Penguin breaks out of Arkham and sets about looking for some loot (eventually revealed to be a Scrooge McDuck-esque pile of gold coins) that’s been stashed in a cemetery, which leads to him inadvertently resurrecting Dracula because, well, it’s Gotham City and that sort of thing tends to happen a lot there. It turns out the terrified populace of Transylvania eventually got tired of being snack food and, in the absence of a reliable Belmont, shipped Big D off to Gotham and had him interred in their cemetery, figuring that vanquishing evil with the morning sun and pawning off their problems on the New World were basically the same thing anyway.

Dracula makes short work of Renfieldizing the Penguin and before long, he and his ill sideburns are heading out to high society parties…

 

 

…where he patiently explains that no, he is not Ra’s al-Ghul, and yes, he gets that all the time.

He also introduces himself as (brace yourself) “Dr. Alucard,” and as far as pseudonyms go, that’s only about half a step above “Dr. Acula.” And the sad part is, it takes the World’s Greatest Detective at least ten minutes to figure this out, even with the help of visual aids.

Further complicating matters is the presence of foxy reporter and Bat-love interest Vicky Vale, who is introduced–no joke–with a lingering shot of her rack:

 

 

Vicky’s been spending a lot of time with Bruce Wayne lately as she’s been covering the latest development from WayneTech, a machine that collects and stores sunlight to be released at one’s leisure, which we’ll find out later is an exceptionally handy thing to have laying around when you’re going to go fight Dracula.

From there, the story procedes about like you’d expect: Dracula makes a bunch of Gothamites into vampires, which gives Batman the opportunity to wail on normal people in some beautifully animated fight scenes that, unfortunately, cut before he actually goes through with judo-throwing a nine year-old girl; eyewitnesses describe a bat-like creature preying on citizens, which leads to Batman being framed for Dracula’s crimes; Batman and Dracula have a scuffle that involves Drac uttering the immortal phrase “try as you might, you can’t out-bat me!”; and then the Joker gets turned into a vampire.

Yeah, you heard me: Vampire Joker.

 

 

Fortunately for the Joker–and therefore unfortunately for everyone else–Batman has seen Blade II and sets about synthesizing a cure for vampirism out of pure SCIENCE!, which he does just in time for Vicky to–surprise!–get kidnapped by Dracula so that he can use her life-force to resurrect one of his brides, and they fight until Batman cures everyone with his fists and then uses his amazing technicolor sunlight machine to take the Count out, keeping his no-killing rule intact thanks to a previous mention of sunlight being an “almost permanent” death for vampires.

Plotwise, that’s pretty paint-by-numbers, but like I said, it’s got some beautiful animation–the first Batman/Dracula fight sees Dracula fighting like a vampiric M. Bison, which is something I didn’t even know I wanted to see until today–and some very fun moments, like the revelation that Thomas Wayne used to go hunting with a crossbow, which would make him the Ted Nugent of Gotham City. Even though there are stretches where it feels like it’s been padded out to fit a Cartoon Network movie slot, it’s still highly entertaining.

Plus, it ends with Batman punching Dracula so hard that he explodes, and that alone makes it better than Red Rain.