Bloodhunting 1 | A roundtable on Marvel’s vampire-infested summer event

The Smash Pages crew digs into the first issue of Marvel’s ‘Blood Hunt.’

Marvel’s next big event is here — Blood Hunt, a crossover series they’ve spent months building toward with announcements about tie-ins, miniseries and even a Red Band edition that features more blood.

The first issue came out last Wednesday, and just like Captain America is assembling a new team of Avengers to fight off the vampire hordes, we’ve assembled the Smash Pages team — myself, Shane Bailey and Tom Bondurant — to talk about the event. So here’s our first “Bloodhunting” roundtable, with more to come in the weeks ahead.

This time around we talk about Blood Hunt #1, as well as the Free Comic Book Day issue and another recent series that might have served as a prelude. Please note there are heavy duty SPOILERS in this discussion related to the story, so only enter if you dare.

Blood Hunt #1

JK: The first issue of Blood Hunt has arrived, kicking things into gear and preparing us for a long, dark summer in the Marvel Universe. Overall what did you think of the first issue?

Shane: I enjoyed it and was surprised by the revelation at the end, which I’m sure we’ll talk about, as I wasn’t reading Blade and didn’t know about all the stuff he’s been going through there in his series. I will say though, with how much they revealed in previews beforehand I feel like I had already seen 90 percent of the issue.

Also I read the “clean” version and you can’t really tell how badly everyone is hurt/maybe killed? I mean it looks like they might be, but…

I don’t know if you all want to discuss the whole two different issues thing, but personally it kinda irks me.

Tom: I read Avengers #13 and was pleasantly (?) surprised — not sure I’ve ever been pleasantly surprised by a tie-in announcement — that it led directly into Blood Hunt #1. I have avoided the big superhero vs. horror miniseries (Marvel Zombies, DCeased, DC Vs. Vampires), but this sounded interesting enough. Plus it seemed to tie heavily into Doctor Strange and Avengers, which I would be reading anyway. And they’re all written by Jed Mackay now, so it’s probably unavoidable.

I was maybe not as shocked by the ending, because it seemed to be telegraphed at least a few pages ahead. That said, Blood Hunt #1 was a good contrast with Avengers #13. Seems like the consensus on MacKay’s Avengers is that it is very Justice League-y — ultra-powerful and professional — so it’s striking to see them so in control versus Orchis and then caught off-guard by the vampires. Have we seen this vampire gang before? The Jason Aaron Avengers did so much with Dracula and Mephisto I was like “what, again?” These seem more like Proxima Midnight and company.

The “vampire gang” in question, the Bloodcoven

Shane: I think they’re all new characters with some interesting designs by Pepe Larraz, who is possibly my favorite modern Marvel artist. I’m in love with how he draws hair in particular. (laughs)

JK: I believe Shane’s correct in that they’re all new — but you never know. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or a few of them ended up being revamped characters we’ve seen before, but I haven’t seen anything that points that way. Many of the designs reminded me of the game Elden Ring, if anyone has played it … they look like the types of monstrous creatures that make your life hell in it.

The Black Order comparison is a good one, Tom, as I thought of them when the Ashen Combine were introduced into Avengers recently, which this group also reminds me of — somewhat ill-defined villains with vague yet very powerful abilities. Or were they called the Twilight Court? No, wait, that was a different set of characters introduced by MacKay in Timeless — the ones based on King Arthur’s court. At the very least, he’s bringing a lot of new characters into the Marvel Universe, but it does feel to me like they could all use some fleshing out.

Shane: That’s a good point. I didn’t think of those villains when I saw the designs, but now that you mention it, I see it.  I did think of all the Arrakii mutants when I saw them in the preview ahead of time, though. Did Pepe design a lot of those, too? I can’t remember. I want to say it was him and RB Silva?

One thing I really liked about this is that they showed the threat was worldwide. I thought that really ramped up the tension. They did a great job at making you feel that everyone was unprepared. I do wish they could have varied the locations a little more than they did in the first issue rather than the long vertical panels though. I would have liked to see some of the rich characters and locations that Marvel has. A few more cameos and, like, vampires in the Savage Land or something would have been nice. The Latveria touch was cool. We should have known Doom would be prepared for anything.

Tom: One quick thing before we get too much further: I thought this issue did a great job of setting a suitably creepy and horrific mood. It reminded me of Final Crisis in that respect — the notion that the bad guys have already won, and their plan just needs to run its course before the heroes realize it’s too late. That went a long way in getting me invested in the plot, which otherwise might have come across like the zombie-hunting of Blackest Night. (Blackest Night was fun in other ways, but it wasn’t especially scary.)

The most recent Blade #1, a series that might be worth a look in your Blood Hunt reading

Shane: That’s 100% true and I didn’t think of that. It does really set a mood, and I truly have no idea what’s going to happen after this first issue. After reading Blade this weekend, at least up to #8 on Marvel Unlimited, I do think that they should have made that a Blood Hunt prequel series or something, as it kind of sets the stage for the whole thing.

I have to say I’m way more interested in the series after reading the issue and the series surrounding it than I was in all the marketing for the book beforehand. Marvel needs to support its small books more, especially since they sometimes lead into these big stories. Let people know that beforehand!

JK: Speaking of the lead-ins to Blood Hunt … a lot of times in comics you’ll get these heavy-handed preludes to events that seem to go on and on before the actual event begins, but I didn’t feel like that here — until we actually got to the event, and then you realize how much set-up MacKay had been doing.  This first issue is of course heavy on the flavors from MacKay’s other series — Doctor Strange, Avengers and Moon Knight. The Shroud ending up being the new Moon Knight, for instance, was a big reveal for that title that quickly turned into a prelude for what we saw in the first few pages of Blood Hunt, with all the darkforce characters being used to create this endless night (which I thought was a pretty cool idea and made for some cool visuals). I like that it seems to be flowing naturally from what he was doing.

The Free Comic Book Day Blood Hunt issue

Shane: It does feel more tied to the Marvel Universe as a whole than most events because of that. Which is a problem in most events when you wonder why so and so is doing his own thing in New York when the world is going to hell. It’s nice to see this has a huge impact both in the setup and as it’s going on. The Free Comic Book Day issue has a nice intro to the event that’s set during the first few pages of issue #1. I just wish there was some kind of road to Blood Hunt branding… Maybe they felt like it wouldn’t bump up sales for some reason? I don’t know.

JK: Maybe they didn’t want to give anything away about the big reveal of who the real villain was. But I could see them slapping a Blood Hunt prelude label on a Blade trade in the future. Speaking of which, we’ve touched it on a bit, but I thought I’d ask directly — what did you think of the big twist at the end, and Blade’s heel turn?

Shane: Well, spoilers of course, but before reading Blade I was surprised, after reading Blade I still think I would have been surprised, but not AS surprised. Does that make sense?

I’m wondering how they are going to get around all this. Blade kind of has a way out if you’ve read the series, but the deaths he’s caused, I’m not sure how they are going to handle that. Not even mentioning that Doctor Strange just died a while ago and now he might be dead again?

The FCBD issue is also interesting as it shows Dracula, the person who trained Blade to use his full abilities now, is on the side of the heroes.

All in all the first issue worked. It got me reading back issues, it got me to pick up the FCBD issue, and it got me interested in the series I was on the fence about. Mission accomplished, Marvel!

Tom: I thought the Blade twist (no pun intended) worked in the sense of it showing just how screwed the heroes are. I know Blade mostly from reading Essential Tomb of Dracula 20 years ago, and I think from Aaron’s Avengers? So I can’t judge the betrayal on a heel-turn spectrum from, say, Punisher to Captain America. But overall, Blood Hunt worked pretty well for me. It hasn’t prompted me to pick up any extra tie-ins, but for the books I already read, it’s not unwelcome. So yes, good job Marvel!

JK: Blade’s always been a bit prickly with the other heroes, but I’m not sure I would have seen this coming. I mean, his whole M.O. is that he hates all vampires because of what they did to his mom, so this seems like a 180 to me. I’ll have to check out the Blade series you mentioned, Shane. I’ve most recently seen him in issues of Miles Morales, along with his daughter Bloodline, and I can’t help but think how this will affect her. Danny Lore’s work on Bloodline has also been fun, so I’m looking forward to getting the Dracula tie-in miniseries.

Which is out today! So that seems like a good place to stop, and we’ll pick up with the first round of tie-in titles next time.

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