Monday, February 16, 2009

Monster Mondays: Blade the Vampire Slayer

Tomb of Dracula 10, 1973, His Name is Blade!

Back in 1973, vampire hunting was the province of white dudes with English accents.  But Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan shook up that entire dynamic when “His Name is—Blade!” appeared in Tomb of Dracula #10!  He was athletic and street smart in a way no other vampire hunter had ever been.  Blade was the only guy who did what I thought was common sense: don’t bring just one stake—bring a dozen wooden knives to kill those suckers with!

Tomb of Dracula 12, Blade fighting Dracula

Blade wasn’t afraid to get physical with Dracula.  Looking back at these old issues, I wonder if we would have had Buffy without Blade?  Blade’s daring and physical prowess in this series almost seems like a blueprint for Buffy.  Blade’s “costume”—trenchcoat, glasses (to protect his eyes from blood spatters) and blade-holding sash belt—may seem funny today, but back then it was pretty cool.

Tomb of Dracula 12, Blade takes no crap from Drake

Nor did Blade take any guff from the rest of the Dracula-hunters (Quincy Harker, Frank Drake, etc).  In Tomb of Dracula #12 he told Quincy his origin story—that a vampire attacked his mother as she was giving birth to Blade!  Little did we know that this vampire—Deacon Frost—was also the maker of vampire detective Hannibal King.

Tomb of Dracula 13, Blade kills Dracula

In Tomb of Dracula #13, we were stunned to see that Blade had actually succeeded in staking Dracula through the heart.  However, killing Dracula and ending Dracula were two separate things.  A horde of villagers were able to carry away Dracula’s body before Quincy and Blade cut remove his head.  Dracula was revived in Tomb of Dracula #14 by a disillusioned preacher.

Tomb of Dracula 19, Blade discovers he is immune from vampire bites

Tomb of Dracula reads like a 70 part max-series when you go back and re-read it.  Dracula takes revenge upon Blade in TOD #17 by forcing him down and drinking his blood.  By TOD #19, Quincy Harker has found Blade’s body and is prepared to put a stake through his heart.  Not so fast, Jack!  It turns out that Blade is immune to vampire bites, as a result of Deacon Frost’s attack at birth.

Tomb of Dracula 42, Blade and Doctor Sun

Just as I mentioned about the Falcon drawing me into Captain America, Blade—while not the single most important element—definitely helped make Tomb of Dracula one of my top favorite all-time Marvel comics.  He’s featured on a number of TOD covers, including this one (#42), the only original art cover that I own.

Blade pinup by Gene Colan Marvel Preview 3, 1975

This nifty pinup here, by Gene Colan, appeared in the black and white magazine Marvel Preview #3, Blade’s first solo adventure!  It looks like a rare piece that Colan inked himself.

I definitely think that Blade is one of the best creations that came out of Marvel during the 1970s.  Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan gave Marvel an incredible gift that resulted in the Wesley Snipes films.  It’s unfortunate that they do not share more of a financial royalty from Blade. 

This concludes Black Marvel Heroes from the 1970s week, hope you enjoyed revisiting Brother Voodoo, Black Panther apartheid, Panther’s Rage, Power Man, Power Man in the FF, the Falcon, and Storm!  As one commenter wrote, maybe there should be a super-team with all these dudes!  Nuff said.

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