Thursday, April 2, 2009

No, really, it was a vampire with no legs!


PREZ #4

March 1974

I must be out of my mind to put this one here, but my studio is a mess, and I've discovered a great cache of e-comics. I do own a copy of this gem, though. As a matter of fact, I have every issue of this series and only lack the comic that has Supergirl carrying Prez on the cover to have every appearance of this character.

SYNOPSIS:

After returning from a state trip to the European nation of Moravia, where Prez's administration has helped build a billion-dollar canal for irrigation, Prez and Eagle Free (head of the CIA) remark on the Moravians' strange custom of wearing garlic wreaths. That night, the White House is unexpectedly visited by a bat shaped helicopter carrying Wolfman, the Transylvanian ambassador. It seems that the Moravian canal has drained the lakes of Transylvania. When Prez refuses to destroy the canal, the Wolfman delivers a formal declaration of war on behalf of his country's leader, Count Dracula. Wolfman storms out, with noone realizing that he has left his coffin-shaped briefcase behind.

Prez calls a meeting of the cabinet only to be frustrated by a lack of intelligence on the area other than the superstitions of legend. The next night sees Wolfman's briefcase open to reveal a vampire with no legs strapped to a small cart for mobility, wearing blocks on his hands to ease his propulsion. Dracula's attempt to turn the sleeping Prez into one of the living dead is thwarted by Eagle Free who fights off the vampire with a Indian hooked cross, which resembles a swastika.

The Monrovian Ambassador reveals that Dracula plans to release thousands of rabid bats over America. Prez goes before Congress for a declaration of War against Transylvania, but Congress doesn't believe him and launches an investigation. Eagle Free concocts a final solution against the Transylvanian plane (their only plane), using birds on a suicide mission to dive into the planes jets and cause it to crash, apparently killing Wolfman and Dracula who were at the controls of the jet.


REVIEW:

This is just goofy, and for the time that it exists in, is wacky enough to make the various elements work in the genre of the story. As a reader, you cannot take this comic seriously. The absolute best part of this particular issue is the timelessness of it. If a young cartoonist produced something like this today, without DC having already done Prez, we'd all be talking about it. The fact that this was written by one of the co-creators of Captain America is a testament to the talent behind that creation and the range that is possible in comics, even with just one creator.

The art conveys the story very well, and for its weaknesses, still is strong enough to add to the bizarre nature of the story, and not distract from it. Neither the story nor the art go into a wacky area that would be so easy with this issue.

I'm serious, though, this series should be on the reading list for alternative comics creators. It reads like something that could have been published by any of the larger independent publishers or even self-published.



NOTES:
Everything I can find about this series shows it as uncollected. Finding it may prove tricky, given that because of the character's appearance in Sandman, demand went up and most likely now everybody that wants a copy has one. I wouldn't pay too much for a copy, since the collectability value of it has come and gone. You still won't find a Near-Mint condition copy in any dollar bins, but you should be able to get a reading copy for not much more than a new comic today. My advice is ultimately that if you think that a shop is charging too much for it, they probably are.

FINAL RATING: 8 (out of a possible 10)

Well, I suppose that the real reason for no higher than a 8 would be the nature of the story itself. It's not the type of comic to change your life, but it has stuck with me.

No comments:

Post a Comment