Overview

Blade #5

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Blade #5

Credits

  • Words: Marc Guggenheim
  • Art: Howard Chaykin
  • Inks: Howard Chaykin
  • Colors: Edgar Delgado
  • Story Title: Vendetta?s Echo
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jan 10, 2007

As the events of Civil War impinge on Blade’s world, he finds himself conscripted by S.H.I.E.L.D. to take down Wolverine in a rare, justifiable guest-appearance.

Prior to this Casualties of War tie-in, the events of the previous few issues had seen Blade’s status change drastically. He was forced to go on the run after years of living off the wealth of his vampire "victims" finally caught up with him and left him suspected of multiple murders by the authorities. This month’s nod to Civil War, and Guggenheim’s Wolverine run, sees him captured by Morbius the Living Vampire, now a registered superhuman, on behalf of S.H.I.E.L.D. He is then offered the chance to wipe the slate clean legally if he agrees to bring in Logan dead or alive.

Marc Guggenheim continues the unenviable task of reconciling all versions of Blade into a coherent whole. With numerous failed relaunches and changes of direction for the character over the years coupled with the need to blend the Marvel Universe Blade with his movie counterpart this is no easy job and, perhaps unsurprisingly, there have already been a number of complaints about continuity issues. To be fair to Guggenheim though, there was already plenty of contradictory continuity surrounding Blade and his attempts to provide some consistency to the character’s back story, after all the baggage accumulated in the 1990s, should be applauded.

While it’s far too easy to be cynical about Wolverine’s obligatory guest-shot, this crossover feels far less forced than the usual mutant crossover appearances. Even the potential mismatch of Blade and Wolverine is explained with a twist that shows just how dangerous and cunning the vampire hunter can be and while the story’s conclusion is perhaps a little obvious, it does add further legitimacy to this team-up.

Guggenheim’s continuing use of flashbacks to Blade’s youth to complement the themes of the main narrative has so far proved hugely effective. It’s underlined the complex character of Blade, showing him to be a deeply flawed, morally ambiguous man who is committed to his cause above all else. Yet Guggenheim still manages to ensure the readers retain their sympathy for him. It’s also pleasing to be able to read complete-in-one stories every month in Blade giving us slam-bang vampire-hunting action in an easily-digestible package.

Howard Chaykin’s art is a real highlight here. This is a book that rewards re-reading because of the little details you may have missed in Chaykin’s panels the first time around along with the obvious depth of research that’s gone into making certain scenes, particularly the historical ones, more authentic. These sepia-tinted sequences of Blade’s past also imply a longevity to the character of which we may not have previously been aware.

There were two moments this issue that brought a smile to the face of my inner fanboy. Firstly, lovers of 1920s silent movies should check out the somewhat familiar vampire Blade fights in the flashback sequence. Secondly, how cool is it seeing Morbius depicted exactly as he looked throughout the 1970s in books like Adventure Into Fear and Vampire Tales?

Despite the reservations of the continuity purists, Blade deserves to finally find its audience this time around. Hopefully a mix of accessible, largely standalone stories that can be appreciated by the casual reader with a greater, but not intrusive, integration into the Marvel Universe itself will ensure this is the case.

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