Death of Dracula #1

Issue Date: 
August 2010
Story Title: 
The Death of Dracula

Victor Gischler (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (penciler), Onofrio Catacchio (inker), Frank D’Armata (colorist), Jeff Eckleberry (letterer) Guiseppe Camuncoli and Marko Djurdjevic (cover), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor), Axel Alonso (executive editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

The once-a-century gathering of the world’s vampires takes place on a deserted Greek isle. The leaders of the various sects meet to discuss their current state of affairs. After a few vampires note the encroachment of the growing human population the Atlantean sect leader suggests leadership could help alleviate the problem. Dracula isn’t pleased with the comment, but his son, Xarus, is quick to cautiously defend the remark. As Xarus approaches his father and discusses the uniting of the various sects he plunges a stake into his heart. Soon Xarus’ allies swarm in and put Dracula down for good. Xarus decapitates his father and declares himself the new vampire lord, one who will unite them and subjugate the human race. Various sects are at odds about this and soon Janus, the other son of Dracula, tries to figure out Xarus’ plan, forging an alliance with the Mystikos and Anchorite sects. He might even have the Siren sect as Alyssa, Siren sect leader, seems unsure about Xarus. After finally meeting with his brother one on one Janus discovers the powerful Krieger sect, who originally opposed Xarus’ plan, was laid to waste by Xarus’ allies using new technology which allows them into the sunlight. This leaves Janus with one hope, the other warrior sect, Claw. He seeks them out and convinces them to his side, or so he thinks. When he approaches Xarus with his allies the Claws turn on him. Before he is killed Alyssa slips one of the protective medallions in his pocket and when the Sun rises Janus doesn’t burst into flames, though the same can’t be said for the Mystikos and Anchorite sect leaders. He fights his way to the cliff’s edge and jumps into the waters below. His pursuers give up the chase and he heads to the nearby docks to steal a boat. Back at the coliseum Xarus basks in the adulation of his fellow vampires as they officially declare him lord of the vampires.

Full Summary: 

deserted Greek island
Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of shadowy figures line the inside of the ancient coliseum. None of them are sitting, merely standing in mute silence at this, the once-a-century gathering of the world’s vampires. This is the first time Janus, son of Dracula, has been to an assemblage of the vampiric sects and he’s a bit in awe at the history he feels, the weight of the centuries staring at him in the face.
A helicopter flies overhead, the thip, thip of the blades punching through the ominous silence like fangs through the neck. Janus acknowledges the newcomers as the Mystikos sect, a group of vampires who favor technology and the corporate world. He guesses they would probably prefer to have the meeting held at the Ritz Carlton.
Janus’ eyes once more survey the crowd. He silently thinks to himself how different the sects of vampires are from one another. His gaze falls upon the Anchorites, a group of vampires dressed mostly in overalls and flannel. He recognizes their discomfort, they preferring to be back home, hidden away from humans and vampires alike, tending to their sheep and pigs, which they use as their blood source.
Next, Janus locks in on the Kreiger and Claw sects, the two most powerful sects of vampires, warriors at heart, though different in nature. His father placed them next to each other in the coliseum so they would be reminded they’re not the only top dog in town.
It’s at this moment the head of the Mystikos sect, Stephen, steps through a nearby archway and greets Janus, hand outstretched. He apologizes for being late blaming air traffic over Athens, comparing it to a backed up Tijuana toilet. Janus shakes his hand and inquires about the identity of the new guy next to him. Stephen introduces Brad, his new number two, and mentions his electronics firm recently made a major breakthrough, which he hopes Janus’ brother put on the agenda for the meeting. Janus seems caught off guard by the news, but isn’t surprised. His brother is always up to something.
Speak of the devil and he arrives, or more specifically Xarus, Janus’ brother and other son of Dracula. At his side, arm wrapped around his, is Alyssa, the Siren sect leader, dressed in a slinky red outfit and knee high boots. Xarus complains that his father is waiting to make a dramatic last-minute entrance, prompting Alyssa to tell him to behave. She then remarks on Janus’ handsome features and he takes her gloved hand and kisses it. “Charming as always, Alyssa,” Janus responds, but thinks to himself he’d expect no less from a female seductress, or “whore” as his father would call them.
“There’s something in the air tonight, brother, can’t you feel it?” Xarus asks as he makes his way down toward the conference room. The face of Janus squints as he ponders what game Xarus is playing.
The sect entourages remain upstairs while the big shots get down to business in one of the coliseum’s inner rooms. The sect leaders take their spots at the long oak table. At the head of the table, in a throne-like seat, sits Dracula. The Anchorite sect leader kicks off the meeting by bringing up the human encroachment problem they’re facing, the explosion of their population within the last century.
Legate, of the Krieger sect, tells him to stand his ground against the humans. Rather coolly, the leader of the Anchorites points out they don’t have the luxury of an unassailable mountain fortress. Highlord, leader of the Aqueos, interjects with the same problem; more and more humans fishing and exploring the oceans.
Stephen smirks as he spins his gold-plated pen between his fingers and suggests they brainstorm on the problem. He asks Highlord what he thinks might alleviate the situation. He responds with one word, a word that prompts Dracula to finally speak up, “leadership.”
Resting the side of his head on a fisted hand Dracula asks him to explain further, sarcastically offering that he’s always open to constructive criticism. Highlord doesn’t respond, instead Xarus gets up from the table and walks slowly over to his father’s side. He offers that their Atlantean cousin doesn’t mean any disrespect, only raises a larger point they all can appreciate namely the fact that humanity hates and fears them. Xarus thinks it might finally be time to discuss.
That’s as far as Xarus gets. Dracula cuts him off. He leans his head forward resting his chin on his interlaced fingers. He reminds them that humanity hates them because they hate fear itself; that they’re afraid of the night for that is where they rule. Dracula finishes by saying the humans have their world and they have theirs.
Xarus tells his father that he may be right, but offers another possibility, that there will come a day when things will change. He whips out a thick, wooden stake and drives it into his father’s chest. Blood sprays into the air as the lord of vampires cries out in pain.
Janus can only watch, frozen, as the world he’s known forever is ripped away. Dracula doesn’t go down without a fight, though. He knocks his son back calling him a traitorous dog. Xarus hits the ground hard and yells for his secret allies to hurry before the stake can be pulled out.
Lord Nosferatu, Highlord and the Charniputra sect leader converge on Dracula, each with a stake of their own. At first Dracula seems like he might pull through, but they prove too much, first Highlord and then the Charniputra stake him in the midsection. Dracula finally succumbs, falling to his back. Lying there on the ground blood begins pooling around his right shoulder.
Standing over his father Xarus orders Highlord to give him the blade. Highlord does so and Xarus raises it over his head. He claims this will demonstrate their commitment and with one powerful swoop Dracula’s head is separated from his neck.
The rest of the assembled vampires finally get over their shock and look ready to take on the turncoats. Xarus begs them to wait and listen to him first. Legate is furious and demands to know how he can justify this outrageous act. Xarus claims it was the only way to get out from under the weight of ancient myth; that they are damned and must live their lives in the dark, the world’s dirty secret. Though you have accepted this, Xarus tells them, “I do not.”
With outstretched arms Xarus proclaims he and his brethren are redeemed by force of will and that united together they will reintroduce vampirekind to the world. As he closes his hand into a fist he states that the world will tremble.
Legate still isn’t convinced. He scoffs at the idea of a united vampire nation built upon such a cowardly act. Xarus lifts up the sword in his hand and points it at Legate asking him what’s honorable about plodding along in the old ways that have kept them down for centuries. He states he did not enjoy what he had to do and insists they must move forward.
The mind of Janus slowly wanders and his gaze falls upon a lone delegate perched on his seat, unmoving, unflinching as if what just happened doesn’t affect him at all. This member of the Moksha sect, a group of vampires who starve themselves, feeding occasionally on the blood of a mouse or bird, and who are privy to visions, remains fixed in his position, a brown cloth draped over his eyes.
Back at the main event Legate dons his coat and tells Xarus his people will not be a part of his new world order and storms out. The Claw sect leader turns without a word and follows his warrior brother out. Janus realizes with both powerful sects turning their back on Xarus he’s lost what would have been very powerful support. Looking into his brother’s eyes Janus gets the sense that Xarus” scheme isnt working out as he planned.
With those still remaining Xarus reminds them of the fear they all have of being discovered and tells them to think on this and to return in 24 hours. “I expect to hear that you’ll be joining me for the progress of our people,” he tells them. He then orders the Charniputra to store his father’s body in the crypt. He then gives his father’s head to Highlord and tells him to be discreet with it. He doesn’t want his father’s followers to simply sweep up his ashes and bring him back like last time.
Xarus scans the room looking for Janus. Their eyes meet and Janus can feel Xarus trying to will him to understand, but all he has are questions for him. Janus reaches his hands to his temples, the gravity of what just happened comes to bear, like something cold, hard and leaden crawling into his stomach. The representatives from Anchorite and Mystikos appeal to Janus for his input, both unsure, but not liking the turn of events.
Heading toward the double doors Janus tells his compatriots he doesn’t believe the 24 hours are for them, that something’s gone wrong with Xarus’ plan and he’s trying to manage it. He says he’s leaving to go talk to him. Stephen tells him to hurry back as their butts our hanging out in the wind and he doesn’t like it.
The first person Janus runs into is not his brother, but Alyssa. When he asks what she’s doing she says she was waiting for him. She runs her hands through Janus’ collar telling him his brother’s position is weak. When Janus asks why she’s telling him this Alyssa admits there’s another candidate she’d prefer to Xarus’ leadership. Janus asks if he could expect the same loyalty from the Siren sect that his brother enjoys. Alyssa tells him Xarus is botching things up and believes they could pick up the pieces together.
With that last bit of politicking Janus resumes his quest to speak to his brother. Alyssa’s words had a heavy impact on his thinking, her seductive powers very strong. He almost fell for it; he could actually see himself as lord of the vampires.
Within moments Janus is at the door to Xarus’ room. He finds his brother pouring a bottle of blood into a large goblet. Xarus tells him to spare the feigned grief, restating his position that their father’s ways were holding them back. He suggests Janus would have done the same had he the stones to do so.
Pouring Janus a glass as well Xarus hands it over. He then asks if he can count on Janus to bring their people out of the darkness. Janus takes the glass and follows his brother as he walks over to a briefcase standing upright on a nearby table. Janus voices his concerns over having lost both warrior sects, the Kreiger and Claw, which might prove disastrous to his coup. Xarus calls it a setback and says he’s disappointed in Janus’ lack of faith.
Standing in front of the briefcase Xarus claims the main problem is uncertainty, but states that a good show of force will bring the undecided around to his side. Janus doesn’t believe threatening the sects will make them follow, but Xarus tells him it’s just one sect, to set an example. He informs Janus he has forces on the way to their stronghold as they speak. It’s almost dawn, Janus protests. “About that,” Xarus replies with a wicked smile.
The briefcase on the table is opened. Xarus tells Janus it took Brad a long time to get them this small, referring to the case’s contents. Janus peers inside and sees eleven medallions, each closely resembling a sliced open grapefruit. He takes one of the pieces for a better look and then questions Xarus’ use of costume jewelry as some sort of secret weapon.
If Xarus takes offense to this comment he doesn’t show it. He asks his brother what he would say if he told him the day would come when they could walk out into the sunlight. Janus points out that someone every few decades comes up with a potion or spell claiming they can make it happen, but it never works. “In the end rule number one holds true. Stay in the dark or die in the fire,” he finishes.
“This’is the game changer,” Xarus responds resting the medallion over his fingers. He goes on to explain that the medallion is actually a device that emits a light-bending field that can protect its wearer from the narrow spectrum of sunlight that harms vampires. Sidling up next to his brother, Xarus happily declares this will bring them into the daylight.
This doesn’t serve to enlighten Janus as to the reasons for his father’s murder. He guesses most vampire sects would have sworn their loyalty to Xarus with just the announcement of this tech, with the ability to finally walk undetected among the humans.
No, Xarus snarls, and tells his brother the light-bending technology is not the answer, just a tool. He walks away brooding, telling Janus he will use such a tool to get their house in order before dealing with humanity. Janus asks what he’s talking about and Xarus explains a small task force of Nosferatu and Charniputra armed with the light-bending technology are paying a visit to the Kriegers. As Xarus goes over how his planned attack will play out the events unfold simultaneously.
Ural Mountains
From high up in the sky the Charniputra descend upon the mighty fortress home of the Krieger sect. On the ground the Nosferatu make their by foot, each armed with a lengthy sword. Catching the Kriegers in their coffins gives the invading force the element of surprise. Many are slain in the initial attack, but the Kriegers are valiant warrior vampires and quickly mount an offensive. The tide seems to turn in their favor, but Xarus has one ace up his sleeve, the giant hallway to their castle is lined with huge windows.
Sunrise comes and the Charniputra quickly go about removing the curtains covering the windows. Immediately all Kriegers within range are set aflame. The Nosferatu and Charniputra remain unaffected thanks to their medallions. The battle ends.
deserted Greek island, Xarus’ room
Now sitting in an ornate, high-back chair Xarus tells his brother that with the Krieger sect’s leadership decimated they will install a puppet to bring the Kriegers over to their side. Smugly, Xarus asks Janus if he has a bit more confidence in his abilities. Janus admits it’s given him a lot to consider and turns to leave. Xarus suggests rather coolly to not ponder too long as the clock is ticking. Janus pauses a moment to take this in before entering the hallway.
Approaching him in the opposite direction is Alyssa. As they pass she asks Janus if he’s saved them from his evil brother. Janus angrily states his brother would never listen to him and welcomes any ideas she may have. Alyssa says her plan is already in motion and she has her best girls on the job.
A trio of knocks rap on Xarus’ door. He bids them enter and three provocatively-clad vampires of the Siren sect introduce themselves as tokens of their sect’s loyalty. Xarus smiles and holds up his goblet; this is exactly the type of disturbance he can handle.
Meanwhile, Janus heads back to the war room where the heads of the Mystikos and Anchorite sects await him. He informs them of Krieger sect’s downfall. Stephen is not happy to hear the news. He tells Janus what he knows, that the Anarchy sect never sends a delegation, the Purebloods are sitting it out, while the Nosferatu, Atlantis and Charniputra, and presumably Siren sects are with Xarus.
Janus almost tells them not to count the Siren sect out just yet, but he keeps it to himself. He’s not sure if he can truly trust Alyssa.
Stephen suggests they just go along with Xarus and let him be lord vampire. The Anchorite leader clenches his fist in anger and says he will not follow him. Stephen gets defensive and points out they have the numbers, and with Krieger out they don’t stand a chance.
A thoughtful looking Janus says they have one option left, Claw sect. Stephen isn’t too keen on going to those crazies, but Janus tells him it’s the only move they have. The Anchorite sect leader agrees with Janus, but points out they might take their heads off just for asking. Stephen turns and points toward the shriveled, old Moksha sect leader still sitting in the same spot he was during the meeting and suggests they ask for a prediction.
Janus approaches the Moksha and asks if he was listening. When the ghoulish looking vampire says he was Janus asks what he knows. Placing a bony hand to his forehead the Moksha can see the doors of Claw sect being opened to Janus as they already know him, but after that, he admits, it’s unclear.
Xarus’ room
Xarus lies on his back, the short-haired blonde straddling him on top. The other two females remain on either side of him, ready to pleasure Xarus if he were to beckon. When the blonde asks if he is pleased Xarus replies in the affirmative. She then whispers into his ear not to get used to it and draws out a sharp dagger. Before the tip can penetrate his vulnerable chest Xarus grabs her by the wrist and with his free hand smacks her across the face knocking her off the bed.
She tries to flee, but Xarus grabs her by the back of her hair. He then reaches for his long sword and yanks her head back into the execution style pose, her knees already on the floor. He suggests this will send a message to Siren sect and raises his blade high.
Mystikos jet
Steve’s contacts and money clear them through Athens airport in record time and Janus figures it’ll still be daylight when they touch down in Istanbul. Both Janus and Stephen sit side by side in the comfy interior of the plane and ponder what’s about to take place.
As they drink their Bloody Mary’s, emphasis on the blood, Stephen asks if going it alone is a good idea. Janus reminds him of what the old one said, that they’d admit him only. Plus, Janus adds, he has some history with the Claw sect. “Besides, if it weren’t for bad ideas, we wouldn’t have any plan at all,” he concludes.
deserted Greek island
Alyssa sits in her room pouring a bag of O negative into a thick beaker. The door to her room bursts open and a sense of dread fills her as if she already knows who her visitor is. It’s Xarus and he strides in all blood-splattered with a sword in his right hand and the decapitated head of her blonde assassin in the left. Xarus wants to discuss the future of Siren sect and guesses Alyssa will be more than eager to show her loyalty to the new regime. Her shocked, wary expression betrays her fear.
The Sun’s been down for an hour and as Janus walks the dimly lit streets he sees no one. He’s looking for a building, part of the original city, trying to find the right alley to turn down. His thoughts wander to his time spent there. Five years of his life were spent studying with the adept. His father told him it would be good for him.
Soon, Janus finds the place and the doors open on their own as he approaches. They’re expecting him, he realizes, and thinks that’s typical for Claw sect. When he enters the building Janus finds himself in a room with the bandaged sect members sitting cross-legged, side by side, lining the interior of the room.
There’s one vampire standing in the center, a sword in each hand pointed toward the ground on either side of him. He tells Janus it’s been a long time since his last lesson. “Master,” Janus responds and that’s all it takes. The adept tosses one of the swords at Janus asking if he still favors the scimitar. Janus catches it in stride admitting he’s a bit rusty.
Pointing the sword at his former master Janus tells him if he turns into mist or something it’ll be a short duel. The master agrees to only test steel and comes at Janus hard. Their swords connect emitting a spark at the contact point. The master recovers quickly and scores a hit along Janus’ side, blood spurting into the air. “You’ve grown slow,” he remarks as Janus falls back in pain.
Despite the fact he’s only come to talk, Janus rebounds and strikes only to have it blocked by the adept who then leaps into the air and swings his sword down toward Janus’ head. Janus blocks the attack, but leaves himself open to the adept’s counterstrike. His fingers around the sword’s handle go lax as a blade is driven through his belly and emerges from his back.
The battle is ended and Janus recovers hunched on the floor. The adept stands over him critiquing his battle skills. He asks Janus how he will master his pain, by channeling it, using it, or letting it unravel him. He tells Janus a warrior eternally on defense will never win a battle.
deserted Greek island
Xarus stands in the center of the coliseum with Highlord on his right and Lord Nosferatu and the Charniputra sect leader on his left. Highlord wants to know where the rest of the sect leaders are. Xarus cautions him to be patient.
That’s when Janus arrives with the Anchorite sect leader along with Stephen and Brad of Mystikos in tow. It’s at this point Janus finally lays out his allegiance, more specifically that he and those with him will not follow Xarus, but end him.
Xarus merely smiles and remarks that the sheep have found a shepherd. Correcting him, Janus says the sheep brought the wolves. On cue dozens of vampires from the Claw sect surround Xarus and his people swords drawn.
Seeming to panic Xarus asks where the Purebloods and Trykes are, his supporters, the other sects. Janus smiles triumphantly and tells his brother nobody is coming to help him. He tells Xarus he overreached and that the Purebloods and Trykes are waiting for the dust to settle. He says the Mystikos and the Anchorites were the only ones brave enough to stand up to him. He jabs his finger into Xarus’ chest and tells him Claw’s help was enough.
The worried look disappears and is replaced by a fang-filled smile. “Was it?” Janus asks, already knowing the answer. The Claw vampires quickly change their stance and surround Janus, Stephen and the Anchorite, blades to their throats.
Xarus explains he needed to see who the hardcore resistance would be, all part of his master plan, and Claw sect was with him from the start. He snidely tells his brother everything went exactly as planned. Brad interjects to tell Xarus the Mystikos sect should be in line in a day or two. Stephen has a few choice words for his number two, but Brad doesn’t seem to notice.
Alyssa enters the scene and congratulates her love on his triumph. Janus remarks on the Siren’s choice to side with Xarus, calling them practical to the end. She smiles, bemused, and tells Janus not to be jealous. She approaches him and kisses him on the lips, a little something to remember her by she says. When she does this she slips something into his inside coat pocket. Alyssa walks away leaving Janus confused, though he bets he doesn’t have long to think about it.
Sure enough Xarus points at the brightening clouds over the horizon of the coliseum seats. Holding his medallion tightly in his hand he proclaims a new order baptized in the fire of the old. He calls it a beginning for his people. Within moments the Anchorite and Stephen burst into flames, but Janus remains unscathed. Xarus is as much surprised about this as Janus.
Seizing the moment Janus attacks the two Claws guarding him and takes them down quickly. He then grabs one of their swords from the ground and takes to the coliseum steps. Xarus cries out for someone to stop him, but he moves like a man possessed taking out any who stand in his way.
Quickly, Janus’ opposition is waylaid and only a trio of Claws continues to chase him through the foothills. Just before reaching the cliff’s edge Janus reaches into his pocket and pulls out the medallion Alyssa slipped into his pocket realizing now how he was saved.
Janus then dives into the waters below figuring it’s his only chance to escape his pursuers. They don’t follow, resigning him to drowning. This couldn’t be farther from the truth as Janus makes his way to a nearby dock intent on stealing a boat. The one question bothering him is what his next move will be.
Standing in the middle of dozens of kneeling vampires is Xarus, fist proudly raised in the air. The crowd hails Xarus as lord of the vampires, a title he willingly accepts. Nearby, hidden in an alcove of the old stone wall is the Moksha vampire from earlier. “And the white snake eats the head of the black snake. A new dawn for an ancient people. It is as I have foreseen,” he grins evilly.

Characters Involved: 

Alyssa (Siren sect leader)
Stephen (Mystikos sect leader)
Brad (Mystikos sect second in command)
Lord Nosferatu (Nosferatu sect leader)
Highlord (Aqueos sect leader)
Legate (Krieger sect leader)

various vampires of the following sects:
Anchorite, Aqueos, Charniputra, Claw, Krieger, Moksha, Mystikos, Nosferatu, Pureblood, Siren, Tryk

Story Notes: 

While no X-characters appear in this issue it serves as the prologue to a big storyline in the first issues of X-Men (3rd series).
The Greek island on which the vampires hold their once a century meeting was founded by the vampires shortly after the fall of Atlantis.
Janus’ first appearance was in Tomb of Dracula #51, his mother being Domini, third bride to Dracula. On the other hand this issue marks the first appearance of Xarus. His origins are currently unknown.
Prior to this appearance, Dracula was collaborating with Doctor Doom, planning to overthrow Great Britain in the hopes of creating a vampire nation. In the final confrontation with MI13 the sword of Excalibur was plunged into his chest and he burst into flames (Captain Britain and MI13 #15). This one-shot throws in a one-liner explaining that his followers gathered his ashes and somehow brought him back to life.
Although the Krieger vampires look very similar with their uniforms and facial hair one would assume based on the narrative that Legate was killed in the massacre. It is stated in this issue’s narrative that Xarus will install a puppet to fill Kreiger’s leadership void and to bring them to his side. However, Legate shows up in future issues of X-Men (3rd series) alongside Xarus. Maybe Legate is the official title of the Krieger sect leader and not his real name?!

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