Sunday, June 12, 2011

I Reads You Review: BLADE #12

BLADE (2006) #12

WRITER: Marc Guggenheim
ARTIST: Howard Chaykin with Gene Colan
COLORIST: Edgar Delgado
LETTERS: VC’s Rus Wooton
COVER: Marko Djurdjevic
32pp, Color, $2.99 U.S., $3.75 CAN

“A Stake Through the Heart”

Back in 2006, Marvel Comics launched a new comic book series starring Blade, their vampire hunter who first appeared in the 1970s horror comic book series, The Tomb of Dracula (#10, July 1973). The character would go on to be the star in a trio of films, beginning with Blade (1998) and starring Wesley Snipes as Blade.

This Blade comic book series, which ran for 12 issues, was written by screenwriter and television writer-producer, Marc Guggenheim. It was drawn by Howard Chaykin, an industry legend and veteran writer/artist best known for the highly influential 1980s comic book, American Flagg! Guggenheim’s take on Blade was closer to the character in the comic books than the one in the movies, and much of this series focused on the early years of Blade’s mission as a vampire hunter extraordinaire.

Blade #12 finds Blade at Castle Dracula in a face off with his biological father, Lucas Cross, a vampire. Lucas, the head of the mysterious Order of Tyrana, intends to force Blade to fulfill a prophecy that would restore the souls of all living vampires. Blade knows, however, that not having a soul is the only weakness that vampires have. Blade’s colleague and friend, vampire detective Hannibal King, is desperate to have his soul back and has sided with Lucas. Everything is against Blade, and it gets worse. His greatest adversary has returned. Also, the story goes back in time to the most crucial mission of Blade’s young career, the one that made him the vamp-killing man he is today.

This Blade series ended by seemingly giving Blade a new future. Since its publication, Blade would go on to be a supporting character and team member in the short-lived Captain Britain and MI: 13 (a series that I absolutely did not like). He’s even a black sheep-like character in the recently launched Ultimate Avengers.

I do miss this series, primarily because I am a huge fan of the character. I also liked the fact that each issue offered a self-contained story, except for the final two issues, which are apparently connected in order to close out the series. As much I liked this series, however, I think that it barely scratched the surface of Blade’s potential. Comic book publishers are currently quite impressed with the idea of hiring television scribes to write comic books, and have been for most of this past decade – especially those who have worked on serial dramas or on genre series (particularly crime or weird/fantasy series).

There are probably advantages to hiring screenwriters (mastery of story structure? reputation? name recognition?), but I wonder if imagination is one of those advantages. Do Hollywood types bring the kind of creativity and unique vision to comics that dedicated comic book writers do? Once again, as much as I enjoyed this Blade series, Guggenheim’s work was not nearly as imaginative and as fun to read as the work Chris Claremont and Marv Wolfman did on this series four decades ago.

It is too bad that Claremont and Wolfman are not now writing a Blade comic book. Speaking of classic Blade creators: Blade #12 has art by Blade’s co-creator, artist Gene Colan.

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