Marvel's ill-conceived Darkhold event continues with a glimpse into an alternate timeline ruled by vampires, which gives Marvel's iconic vampire hunter plenty of prey. Last month, Marvel launched its oddly structured Darkhold mini-event, with a number of Marvel heroes reading from the infamous Marvel artifact in an attempt to stop Chthon from manifesting on Earth. Reading from the Darkhold split the heroes off into a fractured series of realities, which are being revealed more fully in a series of one-shots.
The Blade one-shot was written by Daniel Kibblesmith and penciled by Federico Sabbatini and features the vampire hunter serving as a bogeyman of sorts in a world dominated by vampires. In the new timeline created by the Darkhold, most of humanity were spontaneously transformed into vampires by the vampire terrorist Deacon Frost, leaving only a handful of heroes (some human and some vampire) to find a cure for this new vampiric plague.
Despite the name of the one-shot, the comic's focus is a vampirized Amadeus Cho, who is trying to play all the angles while working on a cure for the vampiric curse. Cho serves as the de facto narrator and impetus for the story of Darkhold: Blade, sending the Last Avengers (a ragtag team of heroes struggling to save humanity) into the lair of the vampire king of New York, Winston Fisk, to seek a cure he developed while knowing full well that the sortie will attract the attention of Blade, whose allegiance is unclear.
For all intents and purposes, Darkhold: Blade is a dark "What If?" comic with a limited amount of space to establish an alternate universe and tell a satisfactory story. Sadly, the creative team whiffs on multiple levels, choosing to use weird gotcha moments and convoluted story points that the comic itself can't even keep track of. For example, early in the comic, Cho theorizes that Blade might be possessed by the blood demon La Magda. Cho points out that vampires have pink eyes as a physical representation of their bloodlust, but a vampire possessed by La Magda has darker red eyes. Just two pages later, we encounter a vampire with red eyes... who isn't possessed by La Magda. Additionally, the corpulent Fisk is shown with white eyes, while a vampirized hero also has pink eyes. What's more - the whole plot point about eye color turns out just to be a red herring, meant to be a distraction to obscure Blade's darker turn. That turn isn't even fully fleshed out, it's simply implied in the one page narrated by Blade, and the overall connection to the Darkhold or Chthon is left out entirely.
Ultimately, Darkhold: Blade #1 is an easily missable comic. It is neither a satisfying Blade story nor does it provide any deeper insight into the events of the Darkhold mini-event. It's simply a vampiric Mad Libs, a frantic mess that uses cheap twists in place of an actual plot.
Published by Marvel Comics
On October 27, 2021
Written by Daniel Kibblesmith
Art by Federico Sabbatini
Colors by Rico Renzi
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Cover by Juan Ferreyra