Nightstalkers #3 (January – 1993 – Marvel)

Nightstalkers #3

The Nightstalkers can’t always get along.  Especially when it comes to Blade and Hannibal King.  What with Blade being the progeny of a mother who had been bitten by a vampire, and King being a vampire, they are often ready to tear at each other’s throats, literally.  When clues are put in front of them that the military might be interested in creating a vampire super solider they put their differences aside again to combat the greater evil.  Not without sniping at each other with sarcastic comments though.

It is all a trap though, set up by Hydra’s D.O.A. (Department of Occult Armaments), their group of scary villains is ready to take out the Nightstalkers in an effort to capture Hannibal King so that they can use him for a prototype for the vampire super solider.  Not for the military though, but for the nefarious plans of Hydra.

There is less complexity to the plot of this comic than there is to your average children’s show, and at least those teach you something.  Blade as a character is a one trick pony (reading this it seems strange that the Blade movie was as good as it was), all he wants to do is kill all things supernatural, even his own partner.  His anger really points to a need for therapy.  Hannibal King is a little more complex, struggling with his dual nature, he hates being a vampire and clings to his humanity as often as possible.  The problem is that he vocally makes a point of it every chance he gets.  Drake is almost a non-entity in this issue, literally there just to point his big gun at monsters and shoot.

The villains aren’t much better.  Pyre, who sets her self and others on fire.  Rotwrap, a mummy who is full of deadly insects.  Malpractice, evil robot doctor.  Innards, who uses his own entrails as weapons.  Their powers are silly, and they really don’t seem like they would be effective of particularly useful in a fight (with the exception of Pyre).  Yet they somehow manage to overcome the Nightstalkers by the end of the issue.

There are really no chills in this issue, and not really any thrills either.  They telegraph where this issue is going pretty fast, and frankly it is a little uninteresting.  I assume the Nightstalkers will be taken to a Hydra base which they will have to escape, and that Blade will be hesitant to rescue King.  I guess I’ll find out if I’m right next issue.

Next Time: The Outdoorsman #1: Bon Appetit or How to Kill a Chubby Vampire

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Nightstalkers #2 (December – 1992 – Marvel)

Nightstalkers #2

Of all the Midnight Sons titles Nightstalkers was always my least favorite.  It is the title that succumbs to  the super hero genre the most.  They are three over powered heroes, Blade (sword wielding half-vampire), Hannibal King (animal blood drinking full blown vampire), Frank Drake (non-vampire decedent of Dracula with a huge ectoplasm gun).  The are always fighting against super villainy baddies (like for example in this issue).  They wear costumes that strike me as being silly, and probably a little impractical in a fight (I mean come on a cape and a cravat).

Coming back to these and re-reading them, they do suffer from all of the things that I don’t like about all the superhero titles.  The second issue of Nightstalkers revolves around that too.  In their first big stand alone face off they end up dealing with a HYDRA task force called D.O.A. (Department of Occult Armaments).  There is a little subterfuge before the Nightstalkers know that that is who they are fighting against, since D.O.A.’s peons are a fortune teller and her two semi-literate assistants.  She escapes into the waiting arms of Hydra but as a punishment for their failure at bringing the Nightstalkers in they are soon face to face with four D.O.A. operatives:  Malpractice, Innards, Rotwrap and Pyre.  That’s right they have silly super villain names.

I have always wanted to like this title more than I do, but it just never did anything surprising or different than you would find in say The Avengers, or Justice League, and for me that just isn’t what I’m looking for.  I have never understood why they would waste all that good potential of characters driven by pain and loss into just making another superhero book.

One of the things that redeems this book for me a bit is the interplay between the three Nightstalkers.  Their’s is a marriage of convenience.  They all seek to eradicate all supernatural forces in the world, and in the end that includes each other.  As a young man I think I only kept up with this title through about issue ten, so I’ll be interested in seeing where that particular dynamic goes.  I know that there are only eighteen issues of the comic though, so I doubt that it will come to a real head where they all kill each other off, guess I’ll find out.

This is still my least favorite of the Midnight Sons titles, but I will get through all of them eventually, I would feel like I was doing the work that a writer and an artist put into the title a disservice by not reading it all (hopefully they don’t completely let me down).

Next Time: Cthulhu Tales #2