|Blade joins MI:13 in September's "Captain Britain and MI:13" #5|
The 1998 “Blade” feature film and its two sequels (as well as the short lived Spike TV series) have made Blade a widely recognized character, but his popularity in the four-color world has waxed and waned. Creators Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan introduced Blade to the world in 1973’s “Tomb of Dracula” #10, in which the slayer joined a group of vampire hunters in battling the titular undead lord. Blade’s quasi-vampiric nature, the result of his mother being bitten by a vampire while actually giving birth to him, made Blade uniquely suited to hunting the undead.
Since than, Blade has starred in the 1992 series “Nightstalkers,” as well as a number of self-titled ongoing and limited series; including an acclaimed 12-issue run by writer Marc Guggenheim and artist Howard Chaykin, which came to an end in August 2007. Blade’s most recent appearance was in Marc Guggenheim’s “Vanguard” serial, which is currently appearing in the anthology “Marvel Comics Presents.”
Blade’s membership in MI-13 came about after editor Nick Lowe remembered the character was British. Writer Paul Cornell found Blade to be especially compelling because he filled an emotional hole in his relationships with the rest of the team, and because of the character’s utterly focused demeanor. “He's got a mission,” Cornell told CBR News. “You get dialogue straight away from thinking about how he'd feel about any question. 'Nice weather today, Blade.' He'd think that it's good that it's sunny, keeps the vampires away, but probably wouldn't say anything. Stoic is good too. It means that when he does say something, it's all underlined.”
When he first appeared, Blade was a very angry character and over the years he’s been tormented by various horrors, but in the most recent “Blade” ongoing series, the character seemed to becoming more and more comfortable with who he is and his mission. Cornell plans to continue with that depiction in “Captain Britain and MI-13.” “I don't really like him tormented, I like him certain,” the writer said. “If he's conflicted, he might hesitate, and we need someone who won't. Mind you, that doesn't mean we won't introduce him to certain inner and outer conflicts, and see how he deals with them.”
Blade decides to join up with MI-13 while the Earth is still under siege by invaders from the Skrull Empire. “We want the platonic ideal of Blade from from the moment you see him, which is in an RAF aircraft that just about makes it to Britain, having lifted Blade off from Manhattan, and been fired on by Skrull ships all across the Atlantic,” Cornell explained. “He made a dangerous journey all the way from the States, in the middle of a war, to join up. So he must think some aspect of Pete's [MI-13 leader Pete Wisdom] project is worth getting involved with, mustn't he?”
Cornell sees Blade’s combat skills and years of experience waging war with the undead as making him the perfect member of MI-13 for commando missions. “He’s someone to drop out of a plane into the middle of the enemy. He's a real badass, our Wolverine, who tells the unpleasant truths, and isn't troubled by the things he's done, like Pete is,” Cornell stated. “That's someone you need in a team dynamic, someone who has to be held back.”
Blade’s vendetta against vampires have made many readers curious about how he’ll interact with fellow MI-13 member, Spitfire, who has recently begun to exhibit a vampiric nature. “Hey, they're both professionals, they know they're going to have to deal with issues like this,” Cornell said. “I'm sure it's all going to be absolutely fine.”
In the final issue of Marc Guggenheim and Howard Chaykin’s “Blade” series, the character was duped into completing a mystical prophecy that resurrected every vampire that had ever been killed, a plot thread Cornell plans on picking up in future issues of “Captain Britain and MI-13.” “Every vampire brought back, you say? And it's Blade's fault? That resonates with a couple of our characters, for good and ill,” Cornell stated.
Another major event to happen to Blade in the Guggenheim/Chaykin series was the loss of his hand. Blade ended up replacing it with a high tech gun, but in his most recent appearance in the “Vanguard” serial, he was shown with two hands. When Blade joins the cast of “Captain Britain and MI-13” he will still be decidedly two-fisted. “He's got one real one and one mechanical one, but at the moment he's using a mechanical one that looks human,” Cornell explained. He can change it for other things when he wants to.”
Over time, Cornell is really looking forward to Blade settling in as a member of MI-13. “I think he gives us a lovely widescreen edge, appropriate for a title which is a series of (thoughtful) action movies,” said the writer. “He first appears in our issue #5, the epilogue to our first story arc, ‘The Guns of Avalon,’ and that leads straight in, via a somewhat shocking cliffhanger, to our second arc, ‘Hell Comes to Birmingham.’ So not a lot of time to catch one's breath. Really glad to have him onboard.”
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