Batman & Dracula: Red Rain is an alternate reality story set in the Elseworlds line of DC Comics, which simply put means that this story is apart from the respective canons of the characters. It is an amalgam of Batman Gothic and Bram Stoker’s world of Dracula where Gotham is visited by the literary Count. Doug Moench came up with the concept which really seems consistent with both mythologies.
One wonders why it had not occurred before 1991, but in researching this article I found that Andy Warhol had made an unauthorized fan film called Batman Dracula in 1964. DC comics had not given permission for the use of Batman hence why it is called unauthorized. The film was in black and white and supposedly lost, although keepers of Warhol’s collections disclose that they have copies of the movie.
Also, in 1967 a Filipino movie with the name Batman Fights Dracula was released but because it was unauthorized there were limited viewings. It is also believed lost to posterity due to its status as an underground film. Clearly, others saw the connection between Batman and Dracula before Moench.
Batman is a creature of the night, who took up his cowl as a means of frightening the underworld element to rethink its career choices and Dracula is a literal creature of the night who secretly feeds on the blood of the innocent, which in essence is what criminals do. Despite using dark motifs, Batman is a force for order whereas Dracula thrives on the disorder. Batman wants his legend to be shared and exaggerated while Dracula wishes that his legend not even be whispered.
In some ways, Batman and Dracula are dichotomous. They are opposites that are distinct forces: one force for good, the other force for ill. Those dichotomies are easy to make when one considers that Batman has a code which overtly states that he does not kill. He will make you poop your panties, but he will not kill. Dracula’s whole existence turns on killing, feasting on the blood of others. In order to survive Dracula MUST kill.
Batman and Dracula are also analogous. Not only have they both adopted the same motif of the bat as a predator, but they work in darkness and shadow. Batman calls out to the evildoers from the shadows. He scares them, and makes them paranoid. Dracula thrives in shadow as well. He materializes out of a dark mist, approaching in secrecy, flying through the night cloaked in the guise of a bat, ready to corporealize when it is time to feed.
Another motif that should be mentioned is the aspect of the Red Rain. It should not be lost on readers that Red Rain is falling throughout the graphic novel. As an aside, it is mentioned that the pollution from Gotham’s numerous factories is affecting the alkaline levels of the water causing the rain to be red. However, and I hope this does not sound too pedantic, but the red rain can also symbolize the blood that now flows abundantly as a consequence of Dracula’s presence.
In Doug Moench’s story, the Dark Knight is investigating the murders of homeless people who get their throats slashed in serial fashion. This intrigues Batman who recognizes that the deaths of these societal castoffs will not be investigated by the Gotham City Police Department with the vigor and aplomb warranted unless he, himself, finds the culprit.
When Batman discovers that the murders are committed by Dracula and a family of vampire minions, he finds that he is powerless to stop them, until Tanya a vampire rogue decides to help Batman. She tells him that she is a vampire and that she leads a contingent of former Dracula minions who have managed to wean themselves from human blood and drink a synthetic chemical similar to blood.
Ever the studious detective, Batman utilizes his resources to form a real-world understanding of vampire mythologies to test the veracity of Tanya’s claims. With Tanya and her army as allies, Batman is faced with some serious life-altering choices that he must make in order to defeat Dracula and his growing number of vampire minions. His final choices are unique, but are acceptable because of the singular nature of the Elseworlds line. In order not to reveal spoilers I will stop here.
The testament to how valued this storyline has become can be revealed by the fact that although the story was originally designed to be a one-shot, there were two sequels written by Moench and drawn by Kelley Jones. The inker, Malcolm Jones III, was only replaced in the sequels due to personal problems by John Beatty. The artwork by Kelley Jones is perfect, very Gene Colan ala Tomb of Dracula. Hopefully readers of the blog will understand the reference, but I do not believe I can gush enough about how gorgeous this graphic novel is.
When taken together, this in my humble opinion, is a masterwork with not just a dynamic storyline, but artwork that adds mood and texture to such a fresh take on the Dracula story. I hope you find this online and check it out along with the sequels.
Thank you for reading our work. I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I love you all! God Bless! Take it easy! Peace!