CCI: Comic Character Investigation #181 février 2012
[ENGLISH] This month: Blade The Vampire Hunter – Since the inception of The Golden Age of comics in 1938, many heroes, and many villains, have splashed their battles across artistic pages, have endured their struggles in those same pages and have intrigued a readership which has loved their adventures for 72 years. This column celebrates such characters by taking a look each month at one of them. Some you will know and some are more obscure, but all hold a significant place in comics, for the world of stories in any medium is about the characters who populate it. The spectacular citizens of the universe who inhabit the comic book nation might be brave or sinister, bold or fearful, but all are characters who we can never forget. So, The Golden Age becomes the Silver Age, The Silver becomes The Bronze and so on, until today and until tomorrow… in The Endless Age of comics, and the beings who live inside them.
Blade: The Ultimate Vampire Hunter
Many characters have claimed the title of Vampire Hunter since the creatures were launched into popularity by Bram Stoker’s masterpiece creation Count Dracula. We’ve had Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter, Sire in the movie Blood: The Last Vampire, Vampire Hunter D…anyway, you get the idea. Once the vampire figure took on a literary appeal It was destined to have a foothold in comics as well.
Marvel Comics had produced Tomb of Dracula back in the Bronze Age in line with the blood-sucking entertainment fed on by the pop culture masses. No cooler creation was penned on its pages by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Gene Colan than Blade, a curious novelty of a vampiric dude who could walk in the day.
The idea was that since it was his mother who was turned while he was in the womb, he only inherited some of the aspects of the vampire curse, some sensitivity to the light (those aren’t just cool shades he wears) and most notably a painful and difficult-to-control thirst for blood. But he became known as the Daywalker to vampires who respected this ability and greatly feared his ability to discount their numbers through bladed weapons, hence his moniker.
Blade first appeared in the Tomb of Dracula series in issue #10 in the heart of the Bronze Age in 1973. On the cover he faces none other than Dracula himself with wooden knives he could launch at the undead’s heart. A fitting scene and one which fed the stories and movies which would come later.
Actually a trilogy of movies were made starring Wesley Snipes who also did production work on the movies. It was very clear that he cared how the character was portrayed and he did justice to the superhero. In fact, while the Blade movies could never have achieved the national attention that other superhero fare such as the Spider-Man and Batman franchises achieved, nevertheless it held its own with any good superhero movie. Even the third installment, while a little tired, was still fun.
The first one was a cool introduction to a character probably most movie audiences did not realize was hatched in the pages of a comic book. This can happen sometimes with lesser publicly known characters like Timecop and John Constantine. A lot of movies are born from comics but few with such zeal and power and absolutely astounding special effects, especially in Blade 2 directed by Guillermo Del Toro. It was arguably the best of the three films.
The Blade movies seemed to slip into the cracks in Hollywood between other superhero movies, but they should be considered very highly as the first couple of films are some of the best superhero movies that have been made (again especially the second film). While the films were fun and the comics action packed, much like Dracula himself and the heroes who eventually defeated him, Blade is a complex organism. An odd genetic result, a folkloric figure, a modern-day knight in a subterranean world of blood and of course…a superhero.
Characters like him pull readers in to watch him again and again because he is a much different animal than anything we have seen before. He also has that dark edge to him that could almost make him a villain or an anti-hero, but he safely straddles the line and contains himself within his heroic cause, although he will allow himself the pleasure of the deaths of countless undead.
Perhaps he inherited something else from the vampires, not only a blood lust but a need for death in his existence. Yet he takes that need and uses it only against the creatures of the night who would devour gentler, more innocent creatures than himself.
In any case, he knows how to do his job and rack up a body count that would make even Vlad the Impaler think twice about facing him. And well he should, because Blade will always have his sword drawn and ready and is probably expecting him.[James Parducci]
James Parducci is the creator of the comic series Nighthunter. He has been published in multiple periodicals and runs his own freelance writing business in San Diego.