Mahershala Ali’s debut on screen as Blade may be years down the line, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait that long for all of that vampire-killing, high-adrenaline goodness. Marvel has released a collection that collects all of writer Marc Guggenheim’s work with Blade, which boils the character down to his daywalker essence with a series of individualized tales that appeal to fans old and new.
This 2006 series is from a bygone era in superhero comics. It was right when I was becoming fully immersed in the world of comics at the end of my elementary school years and the beginning of high school. There weren’t endless relaunches and renumberings. Things seemed to just flow more naturally — I’m not trying to be a cranky old man yelling at a cloud. I love the state of today’s superhero comics, but it’s quite nostalgic to come across a series that is composed of mostly one-and-done stories that have connective tissue running through them all, merging the two greatest elements of serialized comics.
This isn’t to say that this Blade volume from Guggenheim is some revolutionary run that should stand in the pantheon of Marvel runs. It’s good, mindless horror fun. It’s exactly what you’re looking for when you want to read a Blade-led comic: Blade killing demons dressed up like Santa Cruz, taking out a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier worth $90 billion because its agents had a vampire infestation and also going on a time-traveling adventure to prevent the murder of Doctor Doom’s mother. If that sounds outrageous, it most certainly is, but it works.
Blade has never sold terribly well as a solo series lead, which is why you find all of Guggenheim’s issues here in a single volume, so Blade fans can fall into two categories: the hardcore fans who have old issues of Tomb of Dracula tucked safely into their long boxes, and those who are mostly familiar with Eric Brooks from the way Wesley Snipes carved up the underbelly of New York as the titular character in 1998’s Blade and 2002’s Blade II. No offense to all the Marv Wolfman stans out there, but I’ve never had the chance to read any of the original Blade issues, so my knowledge of the character comes from the Snipes films. In that regard, the series works for me: I’m a newbie who can enjoy the bombastic duels Blade finds himself in.
At the same time, Guggenheim weaves in a side story that delves into the greater Blade mythos, filling in bits and pieces of his past that find themselves becoming increasingly intertwined with Blade’s present-day problems as his series continues on. This is an element that didn’t totally appeal to me initially as a reader given my lack of familiarity with Blade’s overall history, but Guggenheim weaves these threads together well enough that my knowledge level doesn’t really matter. This is the aspect of Guggenheim’s work that those die-hard Blade heads will appreciate most, as the writer illustrates he has a clear grasp of what drives Blade as a character and where his moral compass lies.
One surprising addition to this collection is a one-shot from last year that appears at the very end: Wolverine vs. Blade Special #1, which was released in 2019. This sequel, which comes a dozen years after their first meeting back in Blade #5 in 2007 during Guggenheim’s original run, turns things up to 11. Blade and Logan had a brief skirmish back in the day before the dual timelines of Guggenheim’s storyline make Blade realized he was in debt to Wolverine after the mutant saved his life back in his youth.
Comic fans get the B-movie horror fest they’ve been dreaming of here. It’s a treat for Blade and Wolverine lovers. The one-shot has lots of blades and claws, lots of decapitated vampires and a ton of blood. Like, a lot of blood. It’s gruesome in the best possible way, as artist Dave Wilkins shines throughout. His artwork is photorealistic in his depiction of characters’ faces and bodies, but it’s simultaneously over the top when it comes to its brutal action. It wouldn’t be a perfect fit for every Marvel comic out there, but for one pairing Blade and Wolverine together, it’s right at home.
Whether you’re a pureblood who knows every last detail about Blade or merely a daywalker who loves vampiric theatrics, you’ll find good ol’ fashioned comic book fun in this Blade collection.