strangway-ilsa-face-closeupstrangway-ilsa-full-ishILSA STRANGWAY

Real Name: Ilsa Strangway

Identity/Class: Human vampire;
    limited magic-user;
    possessor of a number of talisman of mystic power, tomes of mystic knowledge, etc.

Occupation: Predator;
    former model

Group Membership: Vampires of Earth

Affiliations: Godfrey Langston, Rachel van Helsing (both ally and enemy), Whitby;
    formerly Dracula (Vlad Tepes Dracula), Clifton Graves,

Enemies: Clifton Graves, Rachel van Helsing (both ally and enemy); Geoff and girlfriend;
    indirectly Frank Drake, Taj Nital;

Known Relatives: Unidentified husband (deceased)

Aliases: None (she is more formerly referred to as Madam or Madame)

Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
    briefly a World War II bunker a short distance from her mansion;
    a
mansion in an unspecified location in England;

First Appearance: Tomb of Dracula I#3 (July, 1972)strangway-ilsa-bat-hybrid

Powers/Abilities: As a vampire, Ilsa presumably would have had superhuman strength (typically enhanced human) and required regular blood meals to survive.strangway-ilsa-face-bat

    Further, feeding on a human victim would typically turn that victim into a vampire, depending on the extent of the feeding and other circumstances.

    Those Ilsa vampirized may or may not have been subservient to him.

    When fully fed, she could likely heal rapidly from non-fatal wounds.

    Ilsa presumably had the standard vampire vulnerabilities, including religious icons, sunlight, garlic, silver, and wooden stakes (or arrows) through the heart.

    She could transform into a normal-sized bat and fly.

    She may have been able to mesmerize others with a gaze; however, not every vampire possesses such abilities.

    It is unrevealed whether she could transform into a wolf or into mist.

    As a young woman, Ilsa Strangway was extremely beautiful, and she was an experienced model.

    Most notable amongst her arcane artifacts was the Black Mirror. It is presumed that this is the mirror that held the Darkhold page/Last Chronicle of Chthon, but that is not confirmed.

Height: Unrevealed (approximately 5'9")
Weight: Unrevealed (approximately 140 lbs.)
Eyes: Light pink; formerly light blue (as a human)
Hair: Black (graying/white streaks in her latter years)

History:
strangway-ilsa-youth(Tomb of Dracula I#3 (fb) - BTS) - When Ilsa Strangway was a young woman, every painter and photographer wanted her to model for them. At least by her recollection, she was the greatest beauty of her day.

(Tomb of Dracula I#3 (fb) - BTS) - As she aged, Ilsa came to find harsh light unpleasant, and she replaced the lamps in her mansion with candles.

(Tomb of Dracula I#3 (fb) - BTS) <Sometime within 20 years of the main story...presumably the latter portion of that time period> - Ilsa considered that time ate at her beauty, eroding and destroying it.

    When medicine and science failed to undo the ravages of time, Ilsa turned toward magic and the occult.

    Ilsa acquired numerous occult items, although she ultimately considered most of these to have proven worthless.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 (fb) - BTS) - Ilsa spent almost all of her time in her study, pouring through her various occult tomes until she dozed off.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 (fb) - BTS) - When an old house in Piccadilly with a sinister reputation was torn down, the Black Mirror was amongst its contents to be sold at an auction.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 (fb)) - Knowing the house and seeking occult means to restore her youth, Ilsa Strangway attended the Piccadilly auction.

    When the mirror was brought up, its black surface gleaming, it seemed to call to Ilsa, and she knew it was right for her and felt compelled her to bid to win.

strangway-ilsa-face-human(Tomb of Dracula I#4 (fb) - BTS) - In an obscure book shop, Ilsa found an ancient volume on witchcraft, its practice and practitioners. From this, she learned of the mirror's history, and its ability to serve as a portal across centuries, as well as the need to travel the exact time and place where the mirror existed in order to emerge back on Earth; otherwise, the would step into a world of demon-creatures (perhaps the world of the demon that created the mirror). Ilsa, at least, interpreted the text as indicating that more than one such mirror existed on Earth.

(Tomb of Dracula I#3 (fb) - BTS) - From a copy of Bram Stoker's "Dracula," Ilsa believed she had found an answer to her aging dilemma.

(Tomb of Dracula I#3 (fb) - BTS / Tomb of Dracula I#4 (fb) - BTS) - Seeking to draw Dracula to vampirize her, Ilsa purchased Castle Dracula from recent inheritor Frank Drake.

(Tomb of Dracula I#3) - When Ilsa's solicitor, Godfrey Langston, visited her estate to discuss an offer to purchase her recent acquistion of Castle Dracula (it was from Dracula himself, secretly working through his agent Clifton Graves), he noted to Whitby that she could afford to spend a few pounds on lamps. Though he knew why she disliked strong lights, he noted that such lights would allow others to better see her myriad pictures on the walls; he commented on her beauty, understanding why she was sought after as a model back in the day.

    As Ilsa examined her copy of the book "Dracula," Whitby introduced Langston, and Ilsa thanked and dismissed Whitby. She acknowledged that he wanted to discuss her latest acquisition, but when he informed her of an offer from Graves to purchase "that Transylvanian castle," Ilsa informed him that he had wasted her time and his, coming all the way from London, as Castle Dracula was not for sale at any price...not ever.

    Reminding Ilsa that he was her solicitor and her widower's friend, he told her that he couldn't stand by as she squandered her fortune on "occult junk," and that this "burnt-out castle" was the final straw. When he asked her why, she leaned forward into the light in front of one of her portraits, asking him to compare how she looked 20 years ago to how she looked today. She explained her quest to restore her youth, but when she noted that she had found an answer in her copy of "Dracula," Langston argued that the story was fiction, based on a legend, at best, and that she should accept that aging was a part of life.

    Enraged, Ilsa ordered Langston out of her house and told him he was dismissed. After his departure, she looked back at the images of her younger self, noting that she accepted nothing less than what was originally hers.

    When wind burst open the balcony doors and shattered her lamp, Ilsa was originally startled at seeing a man standing at her window, but she swiftly realized that it was Dracula, and she was pleased to have it confirmed that he existed. Momentarily surprised at his silence and failure to enter, she realized the lore was true, and she invited him to enter, noting that there was very much they could offer one another.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4) - Dracula entered her home, but when he prepared to teach her a lesson for presuming to possess that which was his (purchasing his castle), Ilsa noted that she had left herself defenseless as she pulled out a cross and drove him back. She then told Dracula that she needed to keep the upper hand until she had learned the truth about information in Bram Stoker's "Dracula," notably whether a vampire's feasting could restore a youthful appearance. She then explained to Dracula how she wished to regain her youthful beauty from 20 years ago, ignoring his warning that some things were worse then aging, insisting that she was willing to become a vampire to regain her youth. After she vowed to share with him the secrets of the Black Mirror, Dracula confirmed that feeding had indeed restored his own youthful appearance (he neglected to clarify that this was only because he was a younger man when he became a vampire). Believing she could obtain her dreams, Ilsa allowed the cross to drop behind her and Dracula to approach her; despite her determination, she could not keep from screaming as he bit into her neck and drank of her blood.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 - BTS) - Hearing Ilsa's scream, Whitby assumed she was having nightmares and went to check on her.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4) - As Dracula held the now unconscious or already dead Ilsa's form in his arms, Whitby entered, offering to brew some tea. When Whitby rushed Dracula, the vampire lord swatted him away, causing him to smash into the wall and be rendered unconscious (apparently with a concussion, at least). 

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 (fb) - BTS) - Carrying Ilsa and thus unable to fly away in bat form, Dracula leapt out the studio balcony. leaving a deep pair of footprints in the ground.

    Dracula then Ilsa back to the ruins of old World War II coastal defense bunker in which he had made a base with a pair of coffins to be watched over by Clifton Graves.

    Rain washed away most evidence of Dracula's travel, leaving behind only clear impressions of his footprints.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 (fb) - BTS) - The next morning, a delivery man found the injured Whitby and summoned a constable, although Police superintendent Manfred and his men found no trace of Ilsa or Dracula.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 (fb) - BTS) - Manfred reported the incident, which came to the attention of Scotland Yard's inspector George Chelm, who in turn alerted vampire hunters Rachel van Helsing and Frank Drake. Chelm further ha Manfred instructed to cooperate with van Helsing and Drake in every way possible.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 - BTS) - From his hospital bed, Whitby told van Helsing and Drake of his encounter with Dracula.

    Rachel van Helsing's companion and fellow vampire hunter Taj Nital used his tiger-tracking skills to follow traces too faint for the British inspectors into the neighboring woodland as the sun set behind them.

strangway-ilsa-face-vampire-ohotmu(Tomb of Dracula I#4) - After the sun set, Dracula instructed Graves to help Ilsa arize as the first awakening was difficult. As Dracula greeted her, Ilsa noted how she felt so different than she had imagined, her whole body seeming chilled to the soul. When Dracula corrected her that she was beyond a soul or any mortal consideration beyond the hunger, Ilsa felt the hunger and lunged at Graves. As he had use for Graves, Dracula stopped her, and when she stressed her hunger, as well as her need to fly and to hunt, Dracula told her "in good time," and he reminded her of the bargain they had struck.

    Ilsa thus told Dracula of the Black Mirror, noting that he was a man out of his time and that the Mirror could allow him to return to the 19th century to escape modern technology that may prove problematic for him. Noting that he had survived for centuries and would continue to do so, Dracula cast Ilsa to the ground. Nonetheless seeing a use for the Mirror, Dracula instructed Ilsa to give him the incantation and then they could go reap the rewards of being a vampire.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 (fb) - BTS) - Ilsa gave Dracula the incantation to activate the Mirror. However, not wishing to live in Dracula's shadow, she did not tell him of the requirement of traveling to the time/location of another mirror; she intended Dracula to be destroyed by the demons.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4) - Transforming into a bat alongside Dracula, Ilsa departed the bunker, after which the two parted ways to hunt alone.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 - BTS) - Dracula instructed Graves to meet him at Ilsa's mansion after he had fed; however, the vampire-hunters then ambushed Graves, whom Taj bound while van Helsing and Drake put crosses in both Dracula's and Ilsa's coffins.

    Armed with her crossbow, van Helsing sent Taj and Drake to the Strangway mansion to confront Dracula while she waited for Ilsa.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4) - Returning to human form as she descended into a neighboring village, Ilsa saw a young couple sneaking out from the Friday night dance a the town hall, noting they were young as she would be again. As the young man tried to seduce the young woman, asking her "where's the harm?" Ilsa rushed at the two, telling them, "Here's the harm! Turn those wretched, unlined faces this way and see!"

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 (fb) - BTS) - The killing rage allowed Ilsa to drink the blood of the couple, but after it was over, seeing what she had done and what she had become left her repulsed.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4) - Returning to the bunker, Ilsa tried to ease her repulsion by thinking about how she was now beautiful, which made it worth it. As she tried to lie down and rest in her coffin, however, she screamed upon seeing the cross therein.

    As Rachel van Helsing confronted her with her crossbow, offering true death and final peace, Ilsa was argued that this couldn't happen now that she had finally regained her youth and beauty. Knowing Ilsa couldn't see her face in a mirror, Rachel advised her to look at her hands. Seeing her hands to be wrinkled and spotted, Ilsa realized she was still old, and she raged at Dracula lying to an tricking her. Graves then mockingly explained how Dracula had not lied but not told her everything as punishment for presuming to bargain with him: Dracula's form aged when he had not fed in a long time, and upon feeding he was restored to the appearance he held upon becoming a vampire; however, feeding would not make one appear younger than the age at which he or she became a vampire.

    Though furious at having been played for a fool, Ilsa then revealed how she had plotted against Dracula, such that his efforts to travel through the Black Mirror would leave him trapped within the demon realm. Ilsa rushed at and began to choke Graves so he couldn't warn Dracula, but she realized that she couldn't kill again, even a wretch like Graves.

    Accepting the truth of Dracula's previous warning that there were worse things than aging, Ilsa told Rachel to give her peace, and Rachel shot her (presumably through the heart, destroying her).strangway-ilsa-crossbow

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 - BTS / Tomb of Dracula I#4 - BTS) - Fleeing from Taj, Dracula fled through the Black Mirror and was indeed sent to the demon realm, although he eventually escaped.

(Tomb of Dracula I#5 - BTS) - Rachel van Helsing and Frank Drake sought out Whitby, who directed them to Ilsa's library, from which they learned the means to access the mirror.

(Tomb of Dracula I#6) - Pursuing Dracula through a 19th century Black Mirror, Frank, Rachel, and Taj emerged from the Black Mirror in Ilsa Strangway's manor, thinking they were shortly behind Dracula, but they were surprised to learn from Whitby that he had kept watch and Dracula had not emerged from this Mirror; he suggested Dracula had come out of a different mirror (which he had).

Comments: Created by Archie Goodwin, Gene Colan, and Tom Palmer.

    She called herself "Isla" once at the beginning of Tomb of Dracula I#4, but it was "Ilsa" everywhere else.

    When the Tomb of Dracula series started in the early 70's, Dracula was believed to have last been staked by Abraham van Helsing at the end of the 19th century. It soon enough was retconned to have been much more recent, just before the start of the modern era, by the Scotsman (later identified as Ewan Duff).

    All vampires revived...

    It is unrevealed whether Strangway was her maiden name or her maiden name, but regardless, she retained the name after her husband's death.

    Ilsa was likely revived by the prophecy fulfilled in Blade III#12 that brought back every vampire that had ever perished. Of course, it is quite possible that she was revived in a region of daylight and was fried by the sun.

    The cover to Tomb of Dracula I#4 shows a female vampire descending from the sky, returning to human from bat form, and the covered is labeled, "The Bride of Dracula"; Ilsa doesn't closely resemble the vampire-woman on the cover, nor was she anything close to a bride of Dracula...I think it's just artistic license.

Profile by Snood.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Ilsa Strangway
should be distinguished from:


strangway-ilsa-mansionstrangway-ilsa-mansion-interiormansion

    Ilsa presumably gained her mansion from her husband, who eventually died.

    As she aged, she accumulated occult talismans and tomes, such as the Black Mirror, which she stored in her mansion.

    Ultimately, Ilsa puchased Castle Dracula in a successful mission to lead Dracula to her mansion to vampirize her in a misguided effort to regain her youthful beauty.

    After Dracula vampirized Ilsa, he swatted her butler, Whitby, leaving him with a conscussion.

    A deliveryman found Whitby and notified the constables, leading vampire-hunters Frank Drake and Rachel van Helsing to investigate.

    While Rachel van Helsing destroyed Ilsa, her associate Taj Nital ambushed Dracula in her mansion, ultimately pursuing him as he fled through the Black Mirror.

    From Whitby, Drake and van Helsing learned how to access the Mirror, and they pursued Dracula.

    Ultimately, Dracula escaped through another Black Mirror, while Drake and van Helsing returned to the mansion and pursued Dracula through other means.

--
Tomb of Dracula I#3 (4-6


strangway-ilsa-occult-mask-buststrangway-ilsa-occultoccult materials

(Tomb of Dracula I#3 (fb) - BTS) <Sometime within 20 years of the main story...presumably the latter portion of that time period> - Ilsa considered that time ate at her beauty, eroding and destroying it.

    When medicine and science failed to undo the ravages of time, Ilsa turned toward magic and the occult.

    Ilsa acquired numerous occult items, although she ultimately considered most of these to have proven worthless.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 (fb) - BTS) - The most powerful item Isla acquired was the Black Mirror. It is presumed that this is the mirror that held the Darkhold page/Last Chronicle of Chthon, but that is not confirmed.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 (fb) - BTS) - Ilsa spent almost all of her time in her study, pouring through her various occult tomes until she dozed off.

(Tomb of Dracula I#3 (fb) - BTS) - From a copy of Bram Stoker's "Dracula," Ilsa believed she had found an answer to her aging dilemma.

--
Tomb of Dracula I#3 (4

strangway-ilsa-geoffstrangway-ilsa-geoffGeoff & girlfriend

(Tomb of Dracula I#4) - Returning to human form as she descended into a neighboring village, Ilsa saw a young couple sneaking out from the Friday night dance a the town hall, noting they were young as she would be again.

    As the young man tried to seduce the young woman, asking her "where's the harm?"

    Ilsa rushed at the two, telling them, "Here's the harm! Turn those wretched, unlined faces this way and see!"

(Tomb of Dracula I#4 (fb) - BTS) - The killing rage allowed Ilsa to drink the blood of the couple, but after it was over, seeing what she had done and what she had become left her repulsed.

(Tomb of Dracula I#4) - Returning to the bunker, Ilsa tried to ease her repulsion by thinking about how she was now beautiful, which made it worth it.

--
Tomb of Dracula I#4

Note: It is not confirmed that Ilsa fatally drained Geoff and his girlfriend, which would presumably have resulted in both of them being transformed into vampires.

    As it was Ilsa's first outing as a vampire, she almost certainly had no idea what she was doing.

    Anyway, since the resolution is unrevealed, we didn't identify Geoff and/or his girlfriend as vampires in the Vampires: The Marvel Undead.

images: (without ads)
Tomb of Dracula I#3, pg. 17, panel 1 (mansion exterior);
            panel 2 (mansion interior);
            panel 5 (occult bust/mask);
       pg. 18, panel 1 (occult room, reading Stoker's Dracula);
       pg. 20, panel 5 (pre-vampirized face; close-up)
    #4, pg. 2, panel 3 (human form, mostly full);
       pg. 3, panel 3 (younger appearance);
       pg. 10, panel 5 (vampire face, full) - used digitally cleaned version from Vampires: The Marvel Undead entry
       pg. 13, panel 1 (bat form);
            panel 2 (mid-bat-to-human transformation)
       pg. 18, panel 1 (vampire face, close-up);
       pg. 19, panel 5 (facing crossbow)


Appearances:
Tomb of Dracula I#3 (July, 1972) - Archie Goodwin (writer), Gene Colan (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Stan Lee (editor)
Tomb of Dracula I#4 (September, 1972) - Archie Goodwin (writer), Gene Colan (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Stan Lee (editor)
Tomb of Dracula I#5 (November, 1972) - Gardner F. Fox (writer), Gene Colan (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Stan Lee (editor)
Tomb of Dracula I#6 (January, 1973) - Gardner F. Fox (writer), Gene Colan (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Stan Lee (editor)


First posted: 06/29/2020
Last updated: 06/29/2020

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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