Halloween Spooklight: Blade in the '90s
Examining Marvel's most prolific vampire hunter in his most popular decade, the 1990s.
Throughout October, a new supernatural character or story from the Marvel Universe gets a spooky spotlight leading up to Halloween!
Blade may have debuted back in 1973's TOMB OF DRACULA #10, but he really came into his own as a media icon in the late ‘90s. During that time, the Gerry Conway-Gene Colan creation jumped to the very top of the famous vampire-killers heap when he starred in the 1998 film starring Wesley Snipes.
Though Blade went on to star in two more films and even a TV series, he also made his presence felt during that time in the comics. Just in the last two years of the decade, three different solo titles came out!
The 1998 three-issue limited series, BLADE, by Don McGregor and Brian Hagan fell under the STRANGE TALES umbrella of creepy titles from that time. In the noir-inspired series, Blade found himself taking out vamp-trash in New Orleans. While sharpening his stakes – not a euphemism – a mysterious woman appeared at his door going by the name Dominique.
She brought Blade a story about an acquaintance of hers who seemed to have been accosted by a vampire along with her baby. However, as their meeting becomes interrupted by the appearance of a model-turned-vampire, we cut to Dominique's friends and discover that the vampire she saw was actually the Living Vampire Michael Morbius!
The rest of the tale revolved around the revelation that some man-made vices are worse than blood lust, the presence of a unified vampire front in the Big Easy, and restaurant catering to gore gourmands. Originally solicited as a six-issue limited series, this one abruptly ended on a cliffhanger with the third installment.
However, there are a few Blade appearances between his series that help clear up a few points. In 1999 he popped up in GAMBIT #4 to take down another vampire with the ragin' Cajun in New Orleans. Right after that, he appeared in PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN #7-8 wherein Blade shifted operations to New York City. In #8, Morbius bit Blade, causing his powers to change, setting the stage for his next ongoing series.
BLADE: VAMPIRE HUNTER launched towards the end of 1999 with writer-artist Bart Sears at the helm along with inker-turned-penciler Andy Smith. The six-issue series takes a more Super Hero approach to the character as he finds himself facing off against a small army of vampires as well as S.H.I.E.L.D.'s anti-vampire group aboard a flying ship called Silvereye.
Along the way, he found himself totally brainwashed and fought the Japanese vampire-killing twins Mosha and Mikado, all the while battling a series of increasingly gloppy monsters who all want him dead for a variety of reasons. All-in-all, the series offers plenty of thrills and blood spills as our hero carves his way through some of the Marvel Universe's thirstier problems.
Above, we mentioned three different titles hitting at the end of the ‘90s. The third – actually the first of the batch published – came in the form of a one-shot called BLADE: SINS OF THE FATHER by Marc Andreyko and Bart Sears. Set in the film universe, this story helps establish the connections between bloodsuckers and organized crime through a mobster named Leonardo Passolini who was turned vamp back in 1927. In the modern day, his daughter Cordelia approached Blade about taking out her father. Though a vampire herself, she earned Blade's trust after telling him that she hated her dad for turning her into a monster. However, as a vampire gang war ensues, it becomes clear to the Daywalker that he's been played. Plenty of wild blood-soaked action ensues!
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