Issue(s): Nightstalkers #1
We then go around to the three characters that Nakota introduces for us. The first is Frank Drake, direct descendant of Dracula. He's currently at an aquarium with his wife, Marlene. He has a vision of Lilith bursting out of a whale (a reference to the leviathan from Spirits of Vengeance #1). Marlene seems to see it too, and goes into catatonic shock. Dr. Strange lurks suspiciously in the background.
Strange also shows up at the mental hospital where Blade is being held. It turns out that, with the backing of the governor, he's been forcing the hospital to implement a special type of therapy designed to convince Blade that there are worse things in the world than vampires. Supposedly this is with the idea of "curing" Blade of his current obsession, but it also makes it possible for him to participate in this series and fight other kinds of monsters.
Strange also decides it's time for Blade to have a fashion upgrade.
Strange has already been a kind of behind-the-scenes manipulator in this event, but he's crossed the line into being outright dickish about it here.
Hannibal King goes to Dr. Strange directly, because he's been feeling the urge to drink blood again. Strange says it's because the Montesi Formula has been reversed. He also says that nothing can be done about it, but i'm kind of suspicious of that after what else i've seen from him in this issue.
The three former Tomb of Dracula characters all wind up together again at their former detective agency office.
Meanwhile, Lilith recruits a new Lilin called Meatmarket.
She then shows up at the Nightstalker's office, in "disguise".
The "bloodsucker blood" in Blade's veins tells him that something is suspicious about her, but she tells a story about having a husband who has gone catatonic just like Frank's wife, and says that he can only be saved if two "demons", Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze, are destroyed. They agree to take her case.
By the way, Hannibal King has gone from complaining about wanting to drink blood but saying he's not undead to, well, this.
And Frank Drake is going high-tech (and this is nothing compared to the cover).
By comparison, Blade is relatively unchanged. He's got some swords.
But basically all three characters are full fledged super-heroes now.
Oh, and Dr. Strange is definitely a dick.
And Hannibal King is definitely a vampire.
The Nightstalkers get Blaze and Ghost Rider on the ropes, but Blade's senses again detect something that isn't right, and he is able to perceive Meatmarket lurking nearby.
And it kind of gives away the game.
Meanwhile, Strange confronts Lilith, but it's said that he can't fight her directly because the fight would result in so much destruction it would destroy the world.
The Blade beheads Meatmarket just as Pilgrim is opening a portal to see how the fight is going. So this is another defeat for Lilith. But again, the new group doesn't join forces with Ghost Rider and Blaze. This time there's an explicit reason, though. See, the Nightstalkers may have temporarily allied themselves with Ghost Rider and Blaze, but Ghost Rider is supernatural, and the Nightstalkers don't like the supernatural, so they're only allowing a temporary reprieve.
Says the group with a freaking vampire on their team.
The set-up here feels very forced. We can blame that on Strange, but that just means that Strange's actions here seem more Machiavellian than usual. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, and he does eventually turn out to be one of the Illuminati characters, and in the shorter term he'll play a role somewhat along these lines for Secret Defenders. But he's definitely been a kinder, gentler character in his own series to date. I'm also raising my eyebrows over Frank Drake's transformation into Cable. But overall i like seeing these characters get back together and getting a book.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part five of Rise of the Midnight Sons. Part six is in Ghost Rider #31.
Crossover: Rise of the Midnight Sons
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Rise of the Midnight Sons TPB
Inbound References (5): showBlade, Dr. Strange, Frank Drake, Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch), Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Hannibal King, Lilith (Demon Mother), Marlene McKenna-Drake, Meatmarket, Nakota, Noble Kale, Pilgrim
I was very interested in horror at the time, and I like the general CONCEPT of this book and the others. There's a lot of good horror hooks planted in the MU over the many years. But this is not how you do a horror title, not even one set in the Marvel Universe.
The big appeal of the vampire hunters in Tomb of Dracula is that they were ordinary people trying to deal with the horror.
These books are just about using the tropes of horror to tell generic fantasy/superhero stories.
Posted by: Chris | March 4, 2016 9:32 PM
Strange eventually did turn out to be lying in part about Hannibal King's problems.
Posted by: Michael | March 4, 2016 9:43 PM
Heh...fare thee well, Blade's 70s goggles. Unfortunately it doesn't work for future Wesley Snipes.
Posted by: Ataru320 | March 4, 2016 10:45 PM
As Fnord noticed, this kind of hardline anti-supernatural group could be interesting... if one of the members wasn't a vampire himself. And isn't Blade supposed to be a half-vampire..?
Posted by: Piotr W | March 6, 2016 5:29 PM
Blade being half-vampire is a retcon- at this point he was just "immune to vampire bites".
Posted by: Michael | March 6, 2016 5:32 PM
Ah, I see. If you don't mind, where did the retcon first appear? I remember that Blade was being presented as a half-vampire as far back as the 90s Spider-Man cartoon...
Posted by: Piotr W | March 6, 2016 6:43 PM
Comics Should Be Good did a feature on it here:
Posted by: Michael | March 6, 2016 6:57 PM
That article might be right about when the comics altered Blade's nature, but it's wrong about that first showing up in the movie. Like Piotr said, Blade was half-vampire in the Spider-Man cartoon that aired in '96, with the more child-friendly background that his father was a vampire who fell in love with a human.
Posted by: Mortificator | March 6, 2016 7:31 PM
Okay, they are *absolutely* missing the Spider-Man cartoon, then. I clearly remember that it featured Blade's origin as a dhampir - and the cartoon was from mid-90s, IIRC.
Although one comment under the article suggests that the episode was created as a tie-in for the movie, so...
Posted by: Piotr W | March 6, 2016 7:33 PM
I thought it was the other way around, that in the cartoon his MOM was the vampire, because he ended up having to fight her.
And the cartoon was definitely used as a preview for the movie; it has the first appearance of the Whistler character created for the film, the screenwriter gave them permission to cameo him early.
Posted by: Thanos6 | March 6, 2016 7:54 PM
The way the cartoon told his origin, Blade's mother was turned sometime after he was born, and left him at an orphanage before the transformation was complete.
I didn't know they did an episode later where he confronted her until you mentioned it, though. I've watched it now. What really felt strange to me, going back to the cartoon after reading so many Spider-Man comics, was the Black Cat / Morbius relationship.
Posted by: Mortificator | March 7, 2016 4:42 AM
There seems to be an evolution of Blade's nature in this issue. Twice in this story, the "bloodsucker blood" in Blade's veins is said to provide him with supernatural senses. The first time in sensing that something is up with Lilith when she goes to the Nightstalker's office. The second when he detects the invisible Meatmarket. I don't remember him having senses like that in Tomb of Dracula, and two of his solo stories seem to contradict that idea: in Marvel Preview #3 it's possible to trick him into killing a normal human, and in Marvel Preview #8 he is surprised by vampires because they are children.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 7, 2016 9:06 AM
I'm a bit confused about one thing in this book: Johnny Blaze seems to know Blade, King, and Drake from a previous adventure, but I don't recall there being an issue of the original Ghost Rider series where they all met (or in Tomb of Dracula for that matter). Anybody have an explanation for this?
Posted by: Matt | March 8, 2016 8:05 PM
Just cross-referenced it: Johnny Blaze never met the Tomb of Dracula cast before now. Whenever they met, it probably would never be made into a comic book.
Posted by: Ataru320 | March 8, 2016 8:31 PM
I was thinking about the same thing.
Blade also mentions "knowing of" the 1970s-1980s Ghost Rider, but that is not a big deal at all. Johnny Blaze was a fairly well-known stunt rider and a member of the Champions, after all. Blade would have learned of him if he cared to, and Lilith had just given him a reason to.
But it does not really work the other way without some sort of retcon or "behind the scenes" insertion. The easiest way of doing that is by assuming that Doctor Strange filled them on the Drac Pack. That would work, except that it brings the question of why he would not be directly involved as well.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 8, 2016 11:43 PM
sensing that something is up with Lilith when she goes to the Nightstalker's office.
Blade was probably sensing that Lilith was on the verge of experiencing a wardrobe malfunction :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 9, 2016 8:49 AM
I'm sorry but I need a Netflix series of this. And Darkhold.
Posted by: MindlessOne | July 3, 2017 10:13 AM
Comments are now closed.
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