Batman & Dracula trilogy
|Batman & Dracula trilogy|
|Written by||Doug Moench|
|Inker(s)||Malcolm Jones III|
John Beatty (Bloodstorm and Crimson Mist)
|Colorist(s)||Les Dorscheid, Gregory Wright (Crimson Mist)|
|Red Rain||ISBN 1563890364|
|Crimson Mist||ISBN 1563894955|
The Batman & Dracula trilogy is a group of three American graphic novels written by Doug Moench and penciled by Kelley Jones. The stories—Batman & Dracula: Red Rain (1991), Bloodstorm (1994), and Crimson Mist (1998)—were published by DC Comics as a part of the Elseworlds line of comics. Moench created the concept for the first installment and convinced Jones, of whom he was a fan, to join the project. Red Rain's eventual popularity resulted in DC commissioning sequels.
Set outside the DC Universe canon, the trilogy begins with Batman discovering Count Dracula and his minions feeding off the homeless of Gotham City. Batman becomes a vampire to gain the necessary strength to defeat Dracula, and does so by impaling him to a tree. He finds himself unable to control his desire for human blood and brutally murders the Joker before forcing Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon to stake him. The stake is later removed during a crime wave and Batman slaughters almost all his old foes, after which survivors Two-Face and Killer Croc attempt to get rid of him once and for all.
The Batman & Dracula books were among the earliest and most popular titles of the Elseworlds line, with each listed on the Diamond Comic Distributors bestsellers list. Journalists have praised the books for their story and artwork. Since the trilogy's conclusion, several other DC comics have featured stories set within Batman & Dracula's world, and the vampire Batman has appeared in some non-comic book media.
The Batman & Dracula trilogy was written by Doug Moench and penciled by Kelley Jones. Moench previously wrote Batman and Detective Comics from 1983 to 1986, while Jones was known for redesigning Deadman for the limited series Deadman: Love After Death (1989—1990) and illustrating seven issues of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman (1989—1996). The books were published by DC Comics under its Elseworlds imprint, which was designated for comics that took place outside the DC Universe canon. The initial installment, Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, was an early Elseworlds book; the first, Batman: Holy Terror, had only been released a few months earlier. The Batman & Dracula stories pay homage to the old Universal Pictures and Hammer Film Productions horror films.
According to Jones, Red Rain was produced after he finished Love After Death. Editor Archie Goodwin had been impressed by Jones' work on the series and wanted him to draw a Detective Comics cover to see his take on Batman. The image Jones produced—which depicted Batman diving down with a "weird cape" and surrounded by bats—impressed Goodwin and Dennis O'Neil, the editor of the Batman family of comics. O'Neil wanted to use Jones' art for a Batman book and had been talking to Moench, who was also a fan of Jones. Moench contacted Jones and told him about the concept he had made for an Elseworlds story in which Batman fights Count Dracula. Jones initially thought it was "the dumbest thing [he] ever heard", but changed his mind after Moench sent him the outline for it, which Jones called "out of the park wonderful." The original title was Glory in Scarlet before being changed to Red Rain. It took Moench and Jones five months to produce Red Rain. They used an approach somewhat similar to the Marvel method: Moench provided Jones a plot description of each page, with a few lines of dialogue scattered about. Malcolm Jones III inked the art.
Red Rain was released in December 1991. It was first available as a 90-page, hardcover graphic novel that retailed for US$4.95. Moench and Jones did not envision it as the beginning of a trilogy, instead as a one-shot similar to Batman/Judge Dredd: Judgment on Gotham and Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. However, it sold well above expectations, so DC commissioned the two to produce a sequel. Jones said that they were offered the sequel alongside another Elseworlds story, Batman/Dark Joker: The Wild. The sequel, Batman: Bloodstorm, was published in January 1994; Jones said the gap was caused by his responsibilities on Dark Joker. When he started illustrating, he was also hired to become the cover artist of Batman and Detective Comics. John Beatty had to ink Bloodstorm because Malcom Jones III was having personal issues.
Moench and Jones thought Bloodstorm would be the last Batman & Dracula story because both were now going to work on the monthly Batman titles, but it also sold above expectations. Les Dorscheid had colored Jones' art in the first two books, but he was replaced by Gregory Wright. Unlike Dorscheid, Wright colored the art digitally. Batman: Crimson Mist was released in December 1998. Moench knew that Crimson Mist was the conclusion, as he felt it was going to be the hardest and needed to end on an unsettling note. On December 19, 2007, a collected edition comprising all three books, Tales of the Multiverse: Batman - Vampire, was released. A second collection of the trilogy, Elseworlds: Batman Volume 2, was released on October 5, 2016.
Batman & Dracula: Red Rain (1991)
- Writer: Doug Moench
- Penciler: Kelley Jones
- Inker: Malcolm Jones III
Batman investigates a series of murders of homeless people of Gotham City whose throats have been slashed. He discovers that a family of vampires led by Count Dracula are the culprits behind the murders. A rogue vampire, Tanya, choses to help Batman. Batman, after a vampire bite, acquires the necessary strength to stand up to Dracula's minions while still retaining his humanity. Tanya informs Batman that vampires created by Dracula are powerless against his abilities and mental powers.
Determined to destroy Dracula's minions, Batman lures them into the Batcave. Tanya and her followers distract them while Batman detonates multiple explosive charges, destroying Wayne Manor and killing the vampires. Batman then confronts Dracula and impales him on a tree. This act costs Batman his humanity, as Dracula drains the last of his blood before his death. Batman tells Alfred Pennyworth that he is now immortal.
Batman: Bloodstorm (1994)
- Writer: Doug Moench
- Penciler: Kelley Jones
- Inker: John Beatty
The Joker leads the remaining vampires of Dracula's horde. He convinces the vampires to follow his orders after pointing out their inability to think beyond their next victim since Dracula's death. Although they manage to take control of most of Gotham's major crime families, a team consisting of Batman, Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, and their vampire hunters made up of Gotham City Police Department detectives eventually destroy the vampires. Gordon, Alfred and their team stake the former crime lords during the day while Batman and Catwoman confront the last vampires in a warehouse.
Catwoman is killed, taking a crossbow bolt for Batman, after defeating the vampire who made her what she had become. Enraged at the loss of the only person who was able to help him control his bloodlust, Batman subsequently drains the Joker of his blood. Horrified by what he has done, Batman stakes the Joker to ensure that he cannot come back as a vampire. He then convinces Gordon and Alfred to stake him so that he cannot commit any further murders.
Batman: Crimson Mist (1998)
- Writer: Doug Moench
- Penciler: Kelley Jones
- Inker: John Beatty
Gotham is in the grip of a crime wave. Alfred removes the stake from Batman in an attempt to provide Gotham with a savior once again. Driven mad by the decay of his body and his longing for blood, Batman begins draining and decapitating all of his old enemies. Two-Face and Killer Croc escape this fate and form an alliance with Gordon and Alfred to kill Batman, as both acknowledge that the man Batman once was would not wish to go on killing his opponents in this manner. Having tracked Batman to his new lair in the Batcave, Alfred lures him into the main part of the cavern and they trigger explosives to expose Batman to the sun.
During the struggle, Two-Face and Killer Croc attempt to kill Alfred and Gordon after Batman is nearly fatally injured, but Alfred sacrifices his life to give Batman the strength needed to save Gordon. Having killed Killer Croc and Two-Face by impaling Croc on a stalagmite and sticking arrows into both sides of Two-Face's head, Batman convinces Gordon to trigger the trap and the roof of the Batcave is destroyed. Gordon is crushed by falling rubble and Batman walks into the sunlight, hoping that, in death, he can finally find the peace he has been unable to find since his demonic transformation.
According to DCD, Crimson Mist was the third most-ordered and third bestselling graphic novel of November 1998, with sales estimated at 7,694 copies. It also charted as the fifth most preordered graphic novel of September 2001, with estimated sales of 6,009.
The Batman & Dracula books were among the most popular Elseworlds titles. Nerdist's Rosie Knight described the series as a cult classic. Eric Van Lustbader wrote that, while Red Rain featured an unusual version of Batman, it still managed to retain the feel of his world and somehow showed a more human side of Batman. Lustbader found the story engaging and innovative, and felt it set a new high for "cross-referencing characters from different milieus".
Reviewing Red Rain, IGN's Hilary Goldstein found that no other Elseworlds story featuring Batman was able to top it. He praised its unexpected plot twists, Jones' art style (which he said made the story feel like "a horrible living nightmare"), and encouraged readers to buy it. Goldstein's only criticism was of the cover: he thought the illustration of Batman crawling from a grave was superb, but noted that it took up less than a fourth of the cover. He also wrote that Bloodstorm and Crimson Mist were inferior to Red Rain; he said they were enjoyable but felt they were "clogg[ed] up" with existing Batman enemies.
Goldstein and fellow IGN writer Joshua Yehl went on to rank Red Rain the sixth greatest Batman graphic novel, offering particular praise for Jones' powerful art. Similarly, Screen Rant's Danijel Striga called the trilogy the eighth best DC story set in an alternate reality. He found its concept of turning Batman into a vampire simple yet clever, and described it as "tak[ing] Batman's already dark world and mak[ing] it pitch black." Comic Book Resources's Brian Cronin named Red Rain the eighth best Elseworlds story.
Since the trilogy's conclusion, Batman & Dracula's world has been explored in other DC comics. Jones illustrated a story by Peter Johnson set in the trilogy's universe in Infinite Halloween Special #1 (December 2007). Titled "Red Rain: Blood Lust", it tells the story of the vampiric Batman brutally murdering Dick Grayson's parents and is narrated by the Mad Hatter. In Countdown to Final Crisis (2007—2008), the series' events are described as taking place on the 43rd alternate version of Earth in the DC Comics multiverse. For this series, Johnson and Jones produced another story that features a team of superheroes traveling to Earth-43 to search for Ray Palmer. There, they encounter the trilogy's characters.
For Convergence (2015), Len Wein and Jones produced a storyline in which the Swamp Thing arrives in the world of Batman & Dracula and meets the vampire Batman. The story explores the emotional cost being a vampire has on Batman, depicting him as horrified of what he has become. He and the Swamp Thing team up to fight destroy as many of the remaining vampires as possible and manage to kill the queen vampire; after the queen's destruction, every vampire becomes human again except Batman, who cannot revert since he was bitten by Dracula. Batman and the Swamp Thing watch the sunrise together and Batman expresses how beautiful he thinks it is before turning to dust.
The 2005 animated film The Batman vs. Dracula draws some inspiration from the Batman & Dracula trilogy. Knight and ComicsAlliance's Elle Collins both thought adapting Batman & Dracula into a film was a good idea, with Collins listing actors she thought should play the roles of each character. The vampire Batman is playable in the 2013 video game Infinite Crisis. Also in 2013, Mattel released an action figure of the trilogy's Batman. In addition, in 2017 Mondo released a statue of a vampire Batman called "Batman Red Rain". The figure depicts Batman looming over a graveyard and has an interchangeable arm holding a stake. It is not directly modeled after Jones' artwork, but rather is based on a Mondo poster by Francesco Francavilla that was inspired by Red Rain.
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Written by Batman alumnus Doug Moench, and illustrated with the shadowy pencils of Kelley Jones, Red Rain chronicled the clash between Batman and the legendary Dracula.
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When Gerry Conway parted ways with the Caped Crusader, a new regular writer was needed for both titles. That honor fell to Doug Moench.
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Where all previous artists had shown the character looking exactly the same as he had in life as Boston Brand, Jones' depiction took a distinct turn at Albuquerque as his Deadman looked like a human skeleton wrapped in the familiar costume.
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