by Christofer Nigro
The following timeline is an expanded version of the featured timeline for Dracula-Mordante, the powerful primary rogue soul-clone most well known for his interactions with Vampirella as both deadly foe and esteemed ally (though more often the former), that first appeared in the "Dracula" index for my website The Warrenverse: The Amazing World of the Warren Comics Characters. His exploits were most often chronicled in the pages of Warren Comics during the 1970s and early '80s; Harris Comics during the 1990s; Dynamite Comics from 2010-present; and occasionally elsewhere, like Eternity Comics circa early 1990s and Atlas/Seaboard Comics circa mid-1970s. A few motion picture appearances have also been uncovered by my colleague Zahir Blue.
Like its previous iteration, this timeline will tie in with the Castlevania Timeline by the Acolyte, which chronicles the saga of another powerful rogue primary soul-clone, Dracula-Mathias, and his centuries-long struggle with the Belmont clan and their various allies. This will be done in an attempt to reconcile the sometimes confusing aspects of Dracula-Mordante's backstory involving time travel with similar themes found in the history of Dracula-Mathias, thus suggesting a strange connection between the two soul-clones that constitutes an intriguing aspect of the "secret history" of the Wold Newton Universe [WNU].
Much credit must be given for the invaluable assistance I received from my valued colleagues, particularly Zahir Blue, Gordon Long, and Kevin Heim.
Novels and comic books will be underlined. Novels will usually be followed by their author. Comic book issues will normally be followed by an issue number and volume of the series--if known--along with the comic company that published it. If known at the time of this writing, issues where the story was reprinted will be listed too (or may appear in future updates as more info becomes known to this author).
Novellas, short stories, and article titles will appear in standard text surrounded by "quotes," usually followed by the author (if known).
Movies, TV shows, and video games will be italicized. If known, episode titles of a TV show will follow its listing, and the company that produced a given video game will likewise follow its listing.
Wealthy nobleman Count Lucian Mordante, a close relative of the Tepes/Dracula family, is chosen by Dracula-Prime to become his newest soul-clone, hoping that his wealth and influence in the Carpathian region of Europe would prove an asset to him. The new soul-clone Dracula-Mordante, possibly due to his genetic relation to Vlad Tepes Dracula, inherits almost all of the latter's power on a level nearly commensurate to that of Dracula-Prime. Thus, Dracula-Mordante becomes one of the most powerful of all the soul-clones. Though he was a basically noble man with a strong conscience and sense of justice, Count Mordante suffers from a low level of will power, which enables his ancestor to easily super-impose his memories, personality traits, and agenda on his psyche. This causes him to become a loyal clone/minion of Dracula-Prime, and one of his most efficient soul-clones... at first. [Author's speculations]
While on a mission for Dracula-Prime in Paris to take advantage of the chaos occurring there due to the French Revolution of 1848, Dracula-Mordante saves a woman from being killed. He vampirizes her, and sends her back to Dracula-Prime. She later takes on the name of Le Fanu, where she becomes one of the Vampire Lord's most feared and trusted lieutenants... but is later destined to form a power base of her own and become one of Dracula-Mordante's most formidable adversaries. ["Crown of Worms" story arc, Vampirella Vol. 3 #1-6 by Dynamite Comics, reprinted in TPB]
By this point in time, it has become clear to Dracula-Prime that the Mordante Clone is rapidly losing his effectiveness. This is because various aspects of Count Mordante's original personality traits--including his noble sentiments and yearning for romantic companionship--are "leaking" into and conflicting with the super-imposed personality traits and memories of Dracula-Prime. This causes Dracula-Mordante to appear to develop a severe bipolar condition, where he shifts between behaving like Vlad Tepes to suffering from extreme bouts of guilt and self-pity over the evil acts his bloodlust regularly causes him to commit. As a result, Dracula-Prime declares him a failure and abandons the Mordante Clone to his own devices. [Author's speculations]
Dracula-Mordante, under circumstances yet to be revealed, causes the death of a young woman. Her brother, a renowned bounty hunter, pursues the soul-clone and seriously wounds him with silver bullets. Escaping with the help of the lovely deaf mute woman Gwethalyn Christen, the two fall in love and end up siring a dhampiric child (possibly by Dracula-Mordante biting her slightly as she slept, and thus injecting vampiric virogens into the already pregnant woman; it was revealed that Gwethalyn's husband had recently left her before Dracula-Mordante came into her life). Gwethalyn dies after discovering that her lover was a vampire, but her son is nevertheless born. It's this author's conjecture that Dracula-Mordante gave his dhampiric son to gypsies to raise. [Eerie Vol. 1 #48 by Warren Comics, with some speculations by this author].
Despite the fact that Dracula-Prime declared the Mordante soul-clone a failure, he does become concerned that this clone's great power level may cause him to become a problem in the future, regardless of which side of his warring persona eventually won out. Hence, Dracula-Prime has the Mordante Clone put in a state of suspension pending planned attempts to "repair" his fractured psyche. In the meantime, Dracula-Prime prefers to utilize the more efficient and reliable soul-clones, like the Lejos and Denrom Clones, for his purposes during this time. [Author's speculations]
By unknown means, the coffin of Dracula-Mordante, along with much of the already mystically imbued Transylvanian soil within it, are discovered by one of the many Cults of Chaos. These zealots serve not only the Lovecraftian entity who had taken on the name of that particular force of the universe (i.e., Azathoth), but also Dracula-Mathias, who is a merged temporal counterpart of Dracula-Mordante from an alternate future [AF] of nearly a century and a half into the future (see below on this timeline).
Hoping to insure his own temporal existence, Dracula-Mathias orders several of the Chaos Cultists to engage in an elaborate series of schemes to see to it that his origin is set up to occur precisely as he remembered it. Part of this plan is to use the power of the Crimson Stone, a vessel for the power of Chaos, to enchant a book of mystical spells recorded by the numerous mages who served the "mad god" Chaos throughout the past several centuries. This would insure that the spells in the book would be far more effective when utilized even by minor adepts in the mystic arts. This tome is referred to as the Crimson Chronicles. Utilizing the power in that book, they enchant the coffin of Dracula-Mordante, and the already mystically empowered Transylvanian soil within it, to be a means of creating interim soul-clones to carry out their will, until the time was right to revive Dracula-Mordante himself. [Author's speculations]
Whenever a person of an amoral nature opened up the coffin, he would be compelled to rationalize a reason for laying within the enchanted wooden vessel. Upon doing so, his own consciousness would be taken over by that of the still insensate Dracula-Mordante. However, the person in question would still possess only the smallest inkling of Mordante's powers, and it would be required for that person to be bitten by a vampire, whose salivary virogen would result in that body instantly gaining Dracula-Mordante's full power. If Mordante's remains were laying nearby, however, all he would need to do is to psychically direct the possessed man's body to move near those remains so that they could absorb the entranced human's life force; that would cause the man's body to disintegrate and Mordante's original vampiric form to reconstitute itself on the spot. [Author's speculations, with some evidence suggested in "The Coffin of Dracula" series in Creepy Vol. 1 #8-9 and Vampirella Vol. 1 #18, both from Warren Comics]
By unknown means, Abraham Van Helsing, a perennial nemesis of Dracula-Prime, learns of the existence of this enchanted coffin. Here he first learns of the ability of his foe to create soul-clones, but he is unaware that Dracula-Prime's means of doing so is the Star Stone ring, not the coffin. [Author's speculations, backed up by evidence in Creepy Vol. 1 #8-9 and Vampirella Vol. 1 #19-20, both by Warren Comics]c
While Dracula-Prime is off having his legendary exploit in London during this year, Dracula-Mordante initiates a soiree in Styria, Austria alongside his concubine Tania to target the Dolingen clan, whose lineage boasted a woman whom his faux memories from Dracula-Prime "recalled" having as one of his most favored brides at some unknown point in the past. To this end, he lures the former Myra Dolingen--whom he views as the reincarnation of the woman Dracula-Prime once loved (first seen in "Dracula's Guest" by Bram Stoker)--by first capturing her husband Jeffery Rice, who dies during an escape attempt. This, however, attracts the attention of Fritz Van Helsing, Abraham's brother, who ends up defeating Dracula-Mordante after a great battle. [Dracula 3D (a.k.a., Dracula , a.k.a., Dario Argento's Dracula; a.k.a., Argento's Dracula); this incident has been speculated to be an exploit of Dracula-Mordante by Zahir Blue, and this author agrees; when information about this long untold incident was recorded into an indie film in 2012 by director and screenwriter Dario Argento, he changed some of the names to reflect the individuals that Dracula-Prime faced this year as described in Dracula by Bram Stoker]
The events experienced in London by Dracula-Prime months earlier are "transferred" to the psyche of Dracula Mordante. His fractured persona perceives them in somewhat distorted form, including the incorporation of one of his past lovers into the memories, whom he believes to have been "reincarnated" as Mina Harker. He writes these distorted memories down as "fact" in a journal. Over a century later, famous producer/director Francis Ford Coppola gets hold of the journal, and has these events as perceived by Dracula-Mordante put to film. [Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992); speculations by Zahir Blue, supported by this author]
The immoral British nobleman Adrian Varney (possibly related to the infamous vampire, Sir Francis Varney) locates the coffin and opens it, becoming the interim secondary soul-clone Dracula-Varney when the spirit of Dracula-Mordante takes possession of his body. He victimizes Mina Harker and is defeated and destroyed by Jonathan Harker, Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, and Dr. John Seward, while the coffin sinks to the bottom of the sea near Whitby. ["The Coffin of Dracula" mini-series, Creepy Vol. 1 #8-9 (fully reprinted in Creepy Vol. 1 #48) by Warren Comics]
Late November 1903
In accordance with the future Dracula-Mordante's plans, the Dracula-Mordante indigenous to late 1903 receives a strong mental suggestion by the power of the Cult of Chaos, via utilizing the Crimson Chronicles, to cause the faux Vampire Lord to become irrationally incensed that Sherlock Holmes had once stated that vampires didn't actually exist. Dracula-Mordante then goes on an illogical quest of revenge to terrorize London and challenge Holmes to a duel of wits. This ill-fated incident ends with Holmes and Dr. John Watson defeating Dracula-Mordante by tricking him into confronting them in London's Crystal Pavillion, whose numerous glass panes reflect and amplify the sunlight in the early morning hours, thereby reducing Dracula-Mordante to ashes (which were promptly recovered and safely hidden by Cult of Chaos members). ["The Singular Case of the Anemic Heir," The Rook Vol. 1 #10 by Warren Comics, along with speculations by this author regarding the "actual" reason why Dracula-Mordante chose to challenge Holmes in London circa 1903]
This constitutes the fifth encounter between Holmes and Dracula, or one of his soul-clones. The Great Detective previously met Dracula-Prime twice (i.e., Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula: The Adventure of the Sanguinary Count by Loren D. Estelman; The Tangled Skein by David Stuart Davies; and Dracula: The Suicide Club by Steve Jones, published by Adventure Comics); and Dracula-Vlad at least once (i.e., The Holmes-Dracula File by Fred Saberhagen). It's pretty certain that Holmes had deduced the reality of the soul-clones by 1903. He would go on to meet Dracula-Prime again, as well as other soul-clones, such as Dracula-Valberg (e.g., "The Adventure of the Beneficent Vampire" by Frank J. Morlock, published in Lord Ruthven the Vampyre by Black Coat Press).
This prevents the Dracula-Mordante indigenous to the first decade of the 20th century from being active when his extratemporal counterpart, Dracula-Mordante of the year 1971, is sent back in time to 1906 by the Conjuress. [Author's speculations]
During a time when Dracula-Prime was insensate (he would not be revived again until 1971, as shown in The Tomb of Dracula Vol. 1 #1 by Marvel Comics) Dracula-Mordante is revived by members of the Cult of Chaos, worshipers of a dark cosmic being they call the "mad god" Chaos (who is believed to be one of the guises of the Lovecraftian Old One known as Azathoth, as this entity is aligned with the universal force of Chaos; Azathoth is first described in the eponymous short story by H.P. Lovecraft). They use the magick of the Crimson Chronicles to enable the "mad god" they worship to achieve telepathic contact with Mordante. During this contact, Chaos--though unable to remove Dracula-Prime's super-imposed persona, memories, and personality traits--nevertheless manage to impose new faux memories over the soul-clone's psyche. These new false memory implants consist of a bogus lifetime spent on the "planet" Drakulon (also spelled "Draculon"). [Author's speculations]
Mordante's confused psyche would frequently modify the nature of these memories to adhere to his own personal conceits about what a technologically advanced alien society would be like, as he subconsciously strove to make sense of these bizarre and conflicting memory implants. Awakening as an avowed agent of Chaos, Dracula-Mordante is made leader of the largest Cult of Chaos, and de facto head of every branch of the cult in the world. Chaos thought it useful to have a Dracula soul-clone who would be relatively easy for the "mad god" to control (unlike some of the other soul-clones with stronger wills), not only to serve his machinations on Earth, but also to work towards the goal of providing Chaos with the means to achieve an offspring that would be able to vie as a contender for the "Anti-Christ" designation slated to occur in 1999. [Author's speculations, with evidence seen in issues of Vampirella Vol. 1 #16, 18-20 by Warren Comics]
Towards this goal, Dracula-Mordante decides to sire a dhampiric child of his own. He thus attacks and bites a pregnant woman, with the result being that her child is infected with the vampiric virogen in utero. Consquently, her son would be born as the dhampir known as Alex Lucard. By the early 1970s, Lucard's dangerous dhampiric attributes would gain ascendancy when he would lose an enchanted cross necklace that he wore to keep them in check. However, he would soon be slain by unknown means before ever being able to become a contender for the "Anti-Christ" crown just before the Millennium. [Fright #1 by Atlas/Seaboard Comics, with some speculations by this author]
During the 1950s decade, Dracula-Mordante first encounters the immortal sorceress agent of Order known as the Conjuress. This benevolent immortal sorceress posing as a "goddess" sought to redeem the noble persona of Count Mordante that was trapped beneath the evil super-imposed personae of both Dracula-Prime and Chaos. She fails to do so during this time, and she is soon inhibited by the magicks of the Cult of Chaos, who are able to keep her away from Dracula-Mordante as long as they remained a factor in his life. This state of affairs would continue for about two more decades. [Author's speculations]
Nevertheless, Dracula-Mordante is highly smitten with the Conjuress, and as a result of the still untold conflagration between the Conjuress and the Cult of Chaos that ensued, she not only remains very prominent in his mind, but he also subconsciously creates faux memories of having met the Conjuress during his life on the "planet" Drakulon into the already conflicting memory implants of Chaos. He even comes to perceive her as being a deity worshiped as part of a (non-existent) Drakulonian faith system. [Author's speculations, with evidence seen in Vampirella Vol. 1 #18 by Warren Comics]
With the astrological alignment of the stars now allowing a brief excursion by Chaos onto the material plane with the proper ritual procedures, Dracula-Mordante chooses Vampirella to be the bride of Chaos and progenitor of the "mad god's" child. He thus makes arrangements to capture her and bring her back to Castle Mordante. This angers a human member of the Cult of Chaos named Lucretia, who wants to be the bride of Chaos and bearer of his child herself. As a result, she interferes with the ritual, resulting in the destruction of both the Cult of Chaos and Dracula-Mordante [Vampirella Vol. 1 #16 by Warren Comics].
About two months later, Dracula-Mordante is revived near the ruins of Castle Mordante when a corpse scavenger locates the enchanted coffin and opens it, only to become an interim soul-clone. Because the remains of Dracula-Mordante are nearby, the Count reconstituted his original body after absorbing the life essence of the greedy man whose body his consciousness possessed. However, since the Cult of Chaos was now destroyed, the Conjuress once again appears, and she starts the lovestruck and repentant soul-clone on a quest to atone for the evil he had wrought in the past. This includes not only a trip to two otherdimensional planes and a mission back to the late 19th century, but also to more encounters with Vampirella; this leads to a brief ill-fated romance with the vampiric she-warrior. [Vampirella Vol. 1 #18-21 by Warren Comics]
Ultimately, however, Dracula-Mordante proves unable to fully stifle the evil imposed over his psyche, despite all the assistance that the Conjuress and Vampirella offers him. [ibid]
Immediately upon his last 1970s encounter with Vampirella, the Conjuress--angered that Dracula-Mordante fails his mission of atonement--transports him back through time to the Barbary Coast of San Francisco circa 1906. There she surmises he may learn to mend his evil ways after encountering the heavy degree of evil that resides in that time and place. The Conjuress, however, ends up being killed there (at least, apparently), and Dracula-Mordante escapes from the area with a blind elderly gothic witch named Elisabeth and a beautiful young prostitute named Josephine, both of whom he vampirizes, on a ship that was leaving the coastal area for Europe. [Eerie Vol. 1 #46 by Warren Comics]
While en route, Dracula-Mordante encounters and battles an animated rotting corpse who is later simply referred to as the "Dead-Thing" by chroniclers of this story, who is inexplicably stowing away on the ship. [Eerie Vol. 1 #47 by Warren Comics]
Upon arriving at Castle Dracula in Europe, which is uninhabited since Dracula-Prime and the temporal counterpart of Dracula-Mordante indigenous to this time period were also insensate, the Count is shot and very seriously injured by silver buckshot from a rifle wielded by his dhampiric "son," who was born half a century earlier from the womb of Gwethalyn Christen [Eerie Vol. 1 #48 by Warren Comics].
By means unknown, Dracula-Mordante manages to escape from being destroyed by his son, and within two years, both Elisabeth and Josephine were lost to him via circumstances as yet unknown. He then goes on to have an as yet unrecorded encounter with Countess Elizabeth Bathory (a.k.a., Erzebet Bathori). [Evidence seen via a "next issue" box at the end of his story from Eerie Vol. 1 #48 by Warren Comics, as well as the events recorded below in 1908]
Dracula-Mordante, still trapped in this time period while his temporal counterpart indigenous to this time remains sequestered away in a catatonic state, returns to the U.S. He then somehow winds up in Choctaw County, Mississippi. While there he takes a new consort when he vamps a young, terminally ill woman named Cassandra Kiley on the grounds of the enigmatic King Carnival. Both of them join King Carnival's entourage for protection during the daylight hours, and engage in various exploits with the carnival over the next few months as they travel across the country with it. [Vampirella Vol. 1 #39-41 by Warren Comics].
After several months with the King Carnival, the extratemporal Dracula-Mordante and Cassandra Kiley are attacked by an unidentified group of vampire hunters who lay siege to the carnival in the process. During the melee, Cassandra Kiley is successfully destroyed, though Dracula-Mordante narrowly escapes after being seriously injured.
Of course, this was all arranged by Chaos and the Crimson King from "afar" for this very purpose. Specifically, they assured that various human minions of theirs pointed the "witchcraft" finger at Lisa to insure her execution to get their (then) joint agent out of the romantic funk that interfered with his mission. As of now, Dracula-Mathias officially begins his reign of terror on all of Europe. [Castlevania: Lament of Innocence by Konami; and speculations by this author]
Alucard would grow up to become one of his father's foremost nemeses, in yet another "repeating" of history [Castlevania: Lament of Innocence by Konami; with further speculations by this author]
Thus begins the series of events that were recorded in the Castlevania video game series by Konami. Far more info on the exploits of Dracula-Mathias can be found on Mike Ongsingco's (a.k.a., the Acolyte) Castlevania Timeline, to which I am indebted for much of the info here.
Count (formerly Prince) Vlad Tepes Dracula is transformed into a vampire, thus becoming Dracula-Prime. The arch-demon Rasalom, who oversaw Vlad Dracula's vampiric metamorphosis, informs the Count about the existence of Dracula-Mathias, who lay in an insensate state, and warned the Prime Vampire Lord about the danger that both Dracula-Mathias and the vampire-hunting Belmont clan could pose for him. Thus, Dracula-Prime secretly uses the magick of the Star Stone ring to project more of his memories and personality traits into the sleeping Dracula-Mathias. This truly convinced the latter that he was the "Son of the Devil" prophesied to one day inherit the Earth just before the Millennium, making him become a true primary soul-clone for the first time. Dracula-Prime then placed an inferior duplicate of the Star Stone ring on the Mathias Clone's finger to further the illusion and transformation. [Speculations by Mike Ongsingco and this author]
After this, the gothic mystic turned demon lord known as Rasalom revives Dracula-Mathias ahead of schedule, and sets him loose upon the world once more (because this action actually assists rather than conflicts with the plans of Chaos and Death, they make no attempt to stop it). This further embellishes the memories and behavioral traits from Dracula-Prime that he already possesses, albeit in distorted form. From this point onwards, Mathias refers to himself as "Dracula" much more frequently, and the full creation of this powerful rogue soul-clone routinely serves the purpose of garnering most of the attention of the Belmont clan through the centuries. This way, Dracula-Prime is able to carry out his own unrelated intrigues free from harassment from the Belmonts [Author's speculations combined with previous speculations from Mike Ongsingco]
Around this year, a dimensional variant of Dracula-Mordante who is still trapped in the time-looping narrative crafted by the Order of the Dragon finally manages to escape. He accomplishes this after he takes advantage of another "breach" in the fabric of time to cause his old nemesis Vampirella to get absorbed into the narrative and involuntarily take over his own continuously perpetuating role of Vlad Tepes. However, teaming up with Jack Halloran, who is also still trapped, Vampi manages to break from the restrictions of the role and to challenge and defeat Dracula-Mordante. As a result, all three, plus all others involuntarily absorbed (such as Halloran's wife Mia) are all permanently freed from the time-loop narrative. [Vampirella vs. Dracula #1-6 by Dynamite Comics]
Following this, the aforementioned dimensional variant of Dracula-Mordante resurfaces by means unknown in the present to once again become a major factor in Vampirella’s life. It’s possible that this version of Dracula-Mordante is a divergent version who will not go through the sequence of events that ultimately led him to merge his life essence and memories with Mathias Crongvist in the past to become a powerful new soul-clone. Of course, this sequence still "happened" as recorded on the timeline due to another variant of Dracula-Mordante participating in these events within the same timeline. [Author's speculations]
Soon after resurfacing towards the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century in Seattle, Washington, Dracula-Mordante becomes embroiled with his old foe Vampirella in a conflict the two have with the powerful female vampire (and former lieutenant of Dracula-Prime) Le Fanu and the predatory, vastly powerful, and extremely ancient worm-like Elder God known as Yag-Ath Vermellus [Vampirella Vol. 3 #1-6 by Dynamite Comics]
Vampirella and her ally, the noble but formidable vampire Jonathan Collins, are unexpectedly saved from destruction at the hands of Countess Elizabeth Bathory courtesy of Dracula-Mordante after they join forces in one of New York City's rather dismal sections to take her down [Dark Shadows/Vampirella #5 by Dynamite Comics; note that some info from this story's file was altered in the comic book version, such as having Jonathan Collins' forename changed to "Barnabas" to make him appear to be his more famous but equally formidable and vampiric cousin Barnabas Collins; the latter's exploits have been covered in the Dark Shadows TV series and audio series, as well as various comic book series of the same name, including the eponymous title from Dynamite Comics--the actual identity of the Collins vampire in this series was discerned via much hard research and educated conjecture by Zahir Blue, to whom MONSTAAH is indebted for]
The ancient Mayan prophecy stating that world-threatening events would occur during this calendar year come to pass thanks to an elaborate spell cast by the evil and powerful extratemporal sorcerer Kulan Gath. Dracula-Mordante finds himself having no choice but to team up with a variety of champions culled from throughout time, including his perennial nemesis Vampirella and her close friend and frequent ally Pantha, against the tremendously powerful and evil Hyborian Age sorcerer. It was Gath's plan to use dark mystical forces in the present era to precipitate the sacrifice of the planet to the predatory Elder Gods he worshiped in order to gain an elevation to godhood as a reward. He receives aid from materially summoned avatars of several Mayan underworld deities in the process. [Prophecy #1-7 by Dynamite Comics]
Other champions whom Dracula-Mordante unites with for this world-saving conflict include Gath's arch-enemy the legendary Hyborian Age female warrior Red Sonja; the Greek goddess manifested in human form known as Athena; the third generation "mad" scientist Dr. Herbert West, a.k.a., the Re-Animator; the crusading monster-hunter Ash Williams; and (perhaps most interestingly of all) the formidable posthuman female warrior Eva, Daughter of the Dragon, who is evidently the progeny of another powerful rogue soul-clone, Dracula-Rominoff. Hence, it's likely that Dracula-Mordante has been aware of the soul-clone situation for an undisclosed period of time by this point. Nevertheless, like most of the rogues who are aware of the soul-clone situation, the personality and memory implants from Dracula-Prime cause him to continue to believe himself to be the rightful holder of the name and title of Dracula, and thus the "true" Lord of Vampires. [Prophecy #1-7 by Dynamite Comics; with a bit of speculation by this author]
It appears that while struggling alongside Vampirella and her other allies a short time following his escape from the Order of the Dragon's time loop, more of the noble aspects of Lucian Mordante's original persona appear to be "leaking" and influencing the actions of the faux Vampire Lord. As before, however, this hint of his noble aspect was not to remain ascendant. [Dark Shadows/Vampirella #5 & Prophecy mini-series, both by Dynamite Comics]
When the cosmic forces of Order and Chaos butt their metaphysical heads in a major way after the beginning of this year, Dracula-Mordante is positioned by the Parliament of Demons, who serve the forces of Chaos, to replace the "mad god" himself (who has taken on a humanoid-shaped but still gigantic and grotesque demonic form for his interactions with the Parliament). The Vampire Lord thus gathers an army for this purpose, which includes the brutal former Nazi turned cyborg Von Kriest and the powerful vampire Count Graf Orlock (which may actually be the alchemically derived soul-clone Dracula-Olrog, who has sometimes been mistaken for Orlock; Orlock first appears in Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (a.k.a., Nosferatu ); the Olrog Clone, mistakenly referred to as Orlock, first appears in Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night (a.k.a., Nosferatu the Vampyre; a.k.a., Nosferatu ). The Vampire Lord sends an army of demons to attack various parts of the world, only to find himself opposed by his former sponsor and servitor of the forces of Order, the Conjuress (who has been revived) and her various recruits from across time and space--which includes Vampirella and Pantha. Ultimately, Vampi teams with her former mentor Pendragon--who is a former expert of stage prestidigitation turned master sorcerer--to enact a global spell from an unknown arcane tome of great power (possibly the Darkhold) that effectively banishes Dracula-Mordante and his demon hordes to the Nether-Void, the interdimensional realm where Chaos and his various minions have long been consigned. ["Hell On Earth" storyline, Vampirella Vol. 3 #24-25 and Pantha Vol. 3 #5, each by Dynamite Comics]
Notes on identifying Dracula-Mordante
* Though he often acts and plots much as Dracula-Prime does, there are periodic hints of Count Mordante's original nobility to offset his evil at times. Prior to his 1980s revival by the Unseelie Court, he would often exhibit severe feelings of guilt and self-pity over the evil acts his bloodlust and Vlad Tepes' personality implants often caused him to carry out, as well as the superimposed memories of Dracula-Prime that he believed were his own actions. As a weak-willed man, his dark side would inevitably win out despite his often sincere and desperate efforts to conquer it.
* He often displays a strong yearning for romantic love and companionship, along with traditional human sexual fulfillment. Though he does at times show up with small harems, he seems to have a strong preference for monoamorous romantic relationships that are similar to those in traditional human societies. Consequently, he is much more romantic and charming than Dracula-Prime, with a suave manner for engaging women which rivals that of fellow soul-clones Dracula-Lejos and Dracula-Latos.
* He displays all of the same powers that Dracula-Prime does, on almost the same level. This includes skillful mesmerism; control over wild nocturnal animals; localized control over meteorological phenomena; and quite advanced shape-shifting powers into nocturnal animals such as bats and wolves or a cloud of intangible mist. He has sometimes been seen morphing into forms that even Dracula-Prime himself has rarely or never been seen to take. This different forms include nocturnal or death-oriented creatures like a black mastiff; an owl; a swarm of multiple bats, rats, or flies; a demonic form; a man-bat; a man-wolf; and even a gigantic praying mantis on one recorded occasion. His selective display of these powers suggest that some forms are exceedingly difficult to take, or he is apparently able to more easily take on different forms at different times due to unknown, perhaps astrological factors.
* He has developed a great propensity for the occult, due to his personal studies--both prior to and after becoming a soul-clone--and his time studying the Crimson Chronicles during his tenure as global leader of the Cults of Chaos.
* He has greatly developed his warrior skills, and this appears to be at least partially due to the knowledge he has culled from Dracula-Prime's memory implants, a trait not displayed by many other soul-clones (Dracula-Rominoff, Dracula-Mathias, Dracula-Vlad, and Dracula-Vladislaus being examples of other soul-clones who likewise acquired these skills). He often dons a distinctive scarlet raiment of leather armor during combat, which bears the dragon emblem of the Tepes/Dracula genealogy. At other times, he dresses in typical Gothic clothing reminiscent of that worn by Dracula-Prime and other soul-clones like Dracula-Lejos, Dracula-Denrom, and Dracula-Latos; whereas at still other times he will dress in immaculate formal clothing typical of the people whose culture and time period he is interacting with.
* Unless he is temporarily possessing another person as an interim soul-clone (e.g., Dracula-Varney), he appears as a tall, athletically built, handsome man who looks to be in early middle age. He will tend to have a hint of a European accent, but he may have learned to disguise it when deemed necessary.
* The length of his hair tends to vary. At times it's as long as that typically worn by Dracula-Rominoff, but at other times it's short. He often, but not always, sports a goatee and mustache. Due to this variability in appearance but similarity in behavior, it's not surprising that Eva, Daughter of the Dragon could mistake him for her father, who is actually Dracula-Rominoff, and is also likely able to change his human form under certain circumstances. In accordance with a conjecture by Zahir Blue, this soul-clone does bear a resemblance of sorts to Dracula-Prime, as Lucian Mordante is a fairly close relation to the Tepes clan, so this may be more than coincidental.
* He has a good propensity for creating secondary soul-clones, something he often did through his enchanted coffin before it was destroyed (apparently for good). When out of commission due to temporary destruction, his spirit can take possession of another human, who will become an interim soul-clone as a result (though this vessel will only have a few rudimentary vampiric powers until he--or she--is bitten by a vampire and receives the requisite virogen in their bloodstream; they will then immediately develop most of his powers).
* To perhaps explain some of the atypical animal forms he has taken in certain recorded appearances (particularly in Dracula 3D), note these anecdotes this author made during an online discussion with some valued colleagues when one of them, Zahir Blue, mentioned the various forms taken by the Vampire Lord in Dario Argento's 2012 film:
The huge bat-like creature you mention is, I believe, the man-bat form that has been seen in other accounts, including one used on more than one occasion by Dracula-Prime in Marvel's Dracula stories, as well as other vampires in stories featured in Marvel's Vampire Tales. The man-bat form was used extensively by the "master" vampire Crispian Grimes in House of Frankenstein 1997. Moreover, Dracula-Vladislaus and the female vampires he created for his harem could obtain the man-bat form, and this soul-clone morphed into a large man-bat form to battle the lycanthropic Gabriel Van Helsing during the climactic battle between the two in Van Helsing. The man-bat form isn't as good for stealth purposes as the smaller bat form, but some vampires of the Varnaean strain probably feel it leaves them less vulnerable, grants them access to flight and sharp talons while human-sized, and is good for psychological/horrific effect.
The werewolf (i.e., man-wolf) form is likely a composite state between the wolf and humanoid forms of a Varnaean vampire. It was used by Hannibal King in The Nightstalkers comic by Marvel, as well as seen being used by an injured Evil in the original Fright Night after he was staked while in wolf form.
As Zahir Blue noted in this discussion, there is indeed much precedent for some Varnaean vampires with particularly great shape-shifting abilities--and this includes Dracula-Prime and some of his soul-clones--to morph into multiple small animal forms that have been connected to death and darkness. The powerful soul-clone Dracula-Judas also displayed the ability to disperse his form into multiple small animals in Dracula 2000. This would include swarms of flies, bats, and rats. Zahir Blue has noted a similar ability by the powerful soul-clone Dracula-Pan to transform into a swarm of bats as seen in the late 1980s TV show Dracula: The Series (Zahir Blue's timeline for Dracula-Pan can be found here). So we do see a pattern in the various accounts.
The demonic shape mentioned has been accomplished by Dracula-Mathias, as seen in the various Castlevania games (detailed walkthroughs of which can be found on YouTube). It stands to reason that it may be a form that Dracula-Prime and Dracula-Mordante could also take, albeit likely more difficult for them than the specially-empowered Dracula-Mathias. Demonic forms of various sorts were also typical of some of the more ancient vampire strains, including the Turok-han and some of the older vampires of the Turokian strain, as is evident in the "game face" they typically take when angry or their bloodlust is particularly aroused.
There is some evidence that Dracula-Mordante can take alternate animal forms that have some connection to the realm of the Undead, like the scene in Alan Moore's excellent tale "The New European" from Harris's one-shot Vampirella/Dracula: The Centennial, where he takes the form of a large black mastiff. It's well known that legends of huge black dogs lurking about cemeteries and signifying & presaging death are commonplace in European folklore.
Now, a transformation into a swarm of flies? This is not completely without precedent, since as noted above, Dracula-Judas was once seen to transform into what appeared to be a swarm of bats, rather than just one. Apparently, this multi-creature metamorphic ability is difficult to undertake by shape-shifting strains of vampires, but dispersing their consciousness among numerous smaller flying creatures may be no more "odd" than dispersing their consciousness in the form of a non-corporeal diffuse mist, which seems somewhat easier for them to accomplish. Are flies associated with death? It can be argued that they are, since their larvae, maggots, are harvested in rotting flesh and refuse, and they literally feed upon it. And Dracula-Prime was once trapped in the form of a large black spider (in Don Glut's New Adventures of Frankenstein pulp novel Frankenstein Meets Dracula), which was another metamorphosis into the realm of insects and arachnids that are associated with death and darkness.
Of course, since transforming into a single bat can affect a fast escape from an area at least as well as a swarm of them, one can argue that because the latter multi-bat transformation is much more difficult for shape-shifting vampires to accomplish--probably only the most powerful shape-shifters among them, such as Dracula-Prime and some of his soul-clones who have developed that power, can pull it off--that it's reserved for situations where the vampire wants to confuse his opponents in addition to escaping from them. It may sometimes be utilized for pure dramatic/horrific effect, something that can be viewed as a form of psychological warfare by a vampire of the Varnaean strain. It can possibly also be utilized to present numerous small forms to attack an adversary from many directions simultaneously.
Now, as regards the giant praying mantis form seen in Dracula 3D. Can mantids be seen as associated with death? Well, I would say yes, considering the brutal culinary habits of the female of the species; the same can be said for the black widow spider. The cannibalistic feeding habits of these creatures, which is intertwined with their mating ritual, likely provoked many nightmares in people of older times who discovered this, as I'm sure the metaphorical connotations were not lost on a heavily conservative Christian society who saw sex as something generally negative in many ways--and the idea of female sexuality being particularly negative.
Now granted, the above cannibalistic habit is conducted by the female of the species, not the male, but when it comes to vampires, the current Lord of all vampires--which would "carry over" to his more powerful soul-clones--is male, i.e., the Alpha of the Undead, even though the various vampire strains have their alpha females, too (e.g., Lilith Drake; Marya Zeleska; Vampirella; Elizabeth Bathory/Erzebeth Bathori; Le Fanu). Hence, for that reason, it's possible that particularly powerful male vampires of strains who possess overt shape-shifting abilities can use their "alpha" status to supersede the gender barrier and become giant, predatory mantises themselves. Of course, this would be quite a difficult transformation, and one that is not extremely useful save for horrific effect or maybe close-quarters battle, so it should be no surprise that it's rarely used by even the powerful alpha shape-shifting vampires who are capable of accomplishing it.