Written by Marv Wolfman
Illustrated by Gene Colan and Bob Smith
I know this came out at pretty much the tail end of the bronze age(1982), but it being the time of year for demons and other things that go bump in the night, I thought it would be good to use that as an excuse to read this recently acquired series.
So, in this inaugural issue featuring the reteaming of writer Marv Wolfman and artist extraordinaire Gene Colan several years after their stellar run on Marvel's Tomb of Dracula, we hit the ground running with all sorts of things going on. It feels a bit convoluted, but soon seemingly unrelated characters' stories intersect and things kinda sorta start to make sense.
There is Vanessa Van Helsing, who is being held against her will in a psychiatric hospital for having visions of demons. Also, we have Jack Gold, one time ave reporter for Time magazine, but now downtrodden reporter for The National Chronicle. He was sent by his editor to interview the 3rd player in this saga: Baron Winters. Winters apparently runs some sort of "occult practice" and has gained some notoriety for doing so. Lastly, we have Donovan Caine. He is a parapyschologist involved in military sponsored experiments with demonic rituals(!)whose manifestations seem to coincide with Van Helsing's visions. Got all that?
Ok, as Jack begins interviewing the Baron, they are interrupted by a phone call from the hospital where Vanessa is being kept. She apparently just had another fit resulting in wounds and the staff is dutifully worried and so invite the Baron's presence at the hospital. The baron refuses and tells Jack to go interview Vanessa as she would be better for his story. Jack shows up to talk to her, but before he can really get anything out of her, Donovan Caine shows up with a release for Vanessa basically putting her in his custody. He has big plans for her involving his demonic experiments.
There's also a subplot involving two men from the pentagon who are murdered while on their way to see Caine. Yet, later the same two men mysteriously show up and explain to Caine that there are foreign interests who are aware of his work and they are to guard him. Any ways, Caine wastes no time in beginning his experiments on Ms. Van Helsing and Jack tag alongs looking for a story. As the ritual begins, we see a motorcyclist get dragged down a manhole by some vaporous demon and the issue ends with Baron Winters and hit pet tiger, Merlin standing smugly in his garden stating he has pulled all the strings and brought all the players together. Now he must wait.
At first, I found the sheer amount of characters bewildering, but only because Wolfman imbues a great deal of character to each one. Even the g-men in the beginning, we learn one of their wives want to explore an open relationship. I don't know that I needed that information considering they both die on the next page, but there it is. Colan's art is appropriately dark and moody, but I find Bob Smith's inks to be a bit too sketchy. Dick Giordano inks Colan on the cover and it looks to be a much better fit. All in all, an interesting 1st issue and I'm definitely curious where this is all going.