Vampire Tales #9 is dated February, 1975 and sports a moody cover by Marti Ripoll of a ghastly vampire maid in a somber graveyard. It's connection to any story in the magazine is not apparent, but it's handsome.
This issue will not feature any Morbius stories, but rather Blade the Vampire Slayer is the headliner, though briefly.
The issue starts off with a one-page bit by Tony Isabella and Ernie Chan titled "The Vampire of the Inn" which tells of a Chinese vampire from olden times who impales himself on a tree while attacking his victim.
The follows the text piece "The Marvel Bullpen Page Goes Black and White and Read All Over" which details some of the editorial shifts and highlights some of the other offerings from Marvel's magazine line.
"Bloodmoon" by Chris Claremont and Blade creator Marv Wolfman pits the vampire slayer against the Vampire Legion led by Anton Vierken and as we later learn the beautiful but deadly Maragrite D'lesco. The vampires kill all the women in the brothel in which Blade grew up including his unofficial foster mother Lady Vanity. Blade declares he will gain vengeance when the vampires fail to bring him under their spell and later tells Van Helsing that he will attack this "Legion" on his own.
But that story will not be continued in Vampire Tales as this is the last Blade adventure to appear there despite several ads that suggest otherwise, but will wait for an issue Marvel Preview.
"Blood Lunge" by Doug Moench and Russ Heath is a clever little quickie vampire yarn about a vamp who terrorizes a small village, but one which is ready for him with crosses on nearly every door. Despite that though, he finds a victim he thinks but is surprised to find not a human being at all, but a deadly surprise. I'll let you discover that when you read it at this groovy link. For the record in the reprint I read a few of the pages are printed out of order as is the case at the link above, and that hurts given that the story is a short one. So be careful to read the fourth page after the first one than shift to the second -- it will help.
"The Bleeding Time" by Gerry and Carla Conway with art by Virgilio Redondo and inks by Tony DeZuniga and Alfredo Alcala is a striking story of a vampire who gets shifted against his will from 1902 to the future world of 2300 or so and which is using time travel to siphon off energy from earlier eras. This has the side effect of sometimes shifting unsuspecting folks into the future. In addition to victims the vampire finds a woman from his own time and seeks some solace with her before meeting another deadly enemy from the 19th century who is as merciless as he is.
"Blood Stalker" by Larry Lieber features some tasty art by Jesus Blasco and pits a rather unappealing pimp against a vampire as both battle for control of the women in the area. Neither the protagonist nor the antagonist in this story evokes much sympathy.
Finally there is a rather odd story titled "Shards of a Crystal Rainbow" by Doug Moench and Tony DeZuniga which does a rather masterful job of comparing the curse of the vampire to the much more commonplace but decidedly deadly practice of drug abuse. It's a cleverly done story with a surprising ending and some substantial impact.
All in all despite the absence of Morbius, this is a solid issue with some very compelling stories, some with real heft.
More to come as Morbius returns and really kicks some ass.