When the X-Men throw down against vampires this summer, one vampire slayer isn't going to make it easy for the bad guys.
Blade, the hero with quasi-vampiric abilities, gets involved in the X-Men: Curse of the Mutants event with his own one-shot in August by Duane Swierczynski with art by Tim Green.
The Blade story opens soon after the Death of Dracula one-shot by Victor Gischler that kicks off the event next week. When Dracula dies, it opens up the leadership of the vampires, and what they do next means trouble for the mutants of the Marvel Universe.
The event spills into the new X-Men title, written by Gischler with artist Paco Medina. But along the way, several one-shots explore various layers of the vampires-vs.-mutants story, including the Blade one-shot in August. In fact, the X-Men: Curse of the Mutants - Blade story takes place before Issue #1 of Gischler's X-Men.
Swierczynski said the combination of getting to write a horror-themed comic and working on a story with Gischler was too much for him to pass up.
"I’m a 70s-era Marvel monster nerd, so I jumped at the chance to tell a Blade story," Swierczynski told Newsarama. "I was even more excited when I learned that it would tie in to Victor Gischler’s first arc on X-Men. Victor’s one of my favorite writers, and pretty much one of my favorite people, too. So really, there was no downside to this project."
In the Blade one-shot, Swierczynski said that when something starts killing vampire slayers, it gets Blade's attention and motivates him to gather together a team of vampire hunters.
"Something is taking out vampire slayers all over the world, and Blade sets out to separate rumor from fact and figure out what the hell is going on," the writer said.
The team that Blade gathers is filled with characters that Swiercynski got to create, so he's looking forward to debuting them in the Marvel Universe.
"Part of the fun [of the one-shot] is meeting these slayers, so I don’t want to go into too much detail," the writer said, "but let’s just say that some of those vampire-killers are more eccentric than others. You spend your waking hours chasing after bloodsuckers, and it’s bound to do something to your sanity."
Swierczynski said he named one of the vampires after the person he credits for his love for horror comics, although she might not like the character's description. "I named one of the characters — a mute, androgynous vampire slayer in a gimp suit — after my grandmother, who used to buy me those Marvel horror comics back in the 1970s. Thanks, Grandma!"
The writer said the threat that Blade and his team blitz the villain underground, which makes for some creepy scenes within the comic. The threat they face off against is tied into the mystery Blade and his team are trying to solve.
"All I can say is: it’s a doozy," Swierczynski said.
When the writer heard that Green would be providing art, he knew he'd bring a unique feel to the vampire fights because he'd worked with him before.
"We both worked on an Immortal Iron Fist one-shot more than a year ago and just loved his art," Swierczynski said. "This was a story focusing on an Iron Fist of the deep future, and Tim was able to come up with a wildly original look for this trash-strewn, robot-populated Earth. Plus, his actions scenes are so vivid, they give you whiplash. I can’t wait to see his Blade pages."
Swierczynski said he came up with his approach for Blade in the one-shot by using a combination of inspirations, from both movies and comics.
"It was hard not to picture Wesley Snipes — I love those movies. Even the third one," the writer laughed. "Actually, I took partially inspiration from Richard Stark’s series' character Parker, who like a shark when he’s after something. Blade’s the same way. He puts everything personal aside and moves through the blood-soaked waters with a cunning efficiency. When he gathers the other vampire slayers, it’s not because he wants to have a reunion. Blade knows they’re what he needs to fight this new threat."
While the one-shot stands separately from the members of the X-Men, there are "certain nods" to some familiar mutants, Swierczynski said. And besides, with a war going on in the Marvel Universe involving vampires, this probably isn't the last readers will see of Blade.
"I think that’s safe to assume," he said.