Ashlee Simpson is a fine singer.

*How dare her band screw up her song like that?! Even singing her vocals for her over the top! In a strikingly similar fashion to the evening's prior performance! Those rapscallions! At least America's families were treated to some great dancing for once.

Stoker's Dracula #1 (of 4)

A pretty surprising project to see coming out of Marvel these days; a 48-page no-ads b&w book consisting (at this point) of older material released as the first installment of a brand-new floppy miniseries. Back in 1974, Roy Thomas began a sequential adaptation of Bram Stoker's original novel; the intent was to create the most faithful adaptation of the story to any art form. Dick Giordano handled the art, and the piece began serialization in Marvel's horror magazine "Dracula Lives!", which unfortunately folded at issue #13. After a brief revival in the first (and only) issue of "Legion of Monsters", the story stalled with less than half of the work completed. Now, however, Marvel is letting Thomas and Giordano finish things up, hopefully for a later single-volume edition. This issue consists entirely of reprints; the new work will not begin until a little ways through next issue.

The story's structure lends itself well to this format (this issue collects four installments of the magazine serialization). We get the entirety of Jonathan Harker's stay at Castle Dracula with the infamous Count; the issues closes out just as the vampire hits the road for London. It's a very nice build-up, with the disbelieving Harker becoming more drawn to distasteful religious icons as he becomes aware of the evil lurking around him. The story remains modest in terms of graphic content; violence occurs off-panel, and sexuality is only implied, but Thomas does well to highlight the text's implications, playing up Jonathan's simultaneous feelings of lust and revulsion when being surrounded by vampire ladies clad in tasteful nightgowns, but Giordano's lines know that you don't need to be dressing a Top Cow heroine to look good on the page.

Will any if this prove to be of any worth to those familiar with the source material? I think. Giordano's inks and gray washes look good, giving the story a classy, timeless feel. The reproduction quality is very nice, as far as I can tell. Folks who are interested in this sort of classic monster fun will probably be quite pleased. The package even sports a 4-page essay by Thomas, detailing the history of the project. It's a very curious but very welcome anomaly that this sort of book would get such prominent treatment from Marvel, and I can't wait to see how Giordano's new art mixes with the old next issue. Call it a Halloween treat.