Bloodhunting 2 | Tie-ins, heel turns and plot complications

The Smash Pages crew sinks their fangs into the second issue of Marvel’s ‘Blood Hunt,’ as well as some of the crossover issues.

Marvel’s Blood Hunt crossover is in full swing, with a second issue, several crossover issues and a few tie-in miniseries hitting shelves over the last few weeks.

Once again, the Smash Pages team — myself, Shane Bailey and Tom Bondurant — has come together to talk about the event, with our second “Bloodhunting” roundtable. You can read our thoughts on the first issue here.

This time around we talk about Blood Hunt #2, as well as crossover issues featuring Spider-Man, the Avengers, Doctor Strange, the Blood Hunters and Dracula. Please note there are blood-soaked SPOILERS in this discussion related to the story, so only enter if you dare — or if you’re in your astral form, and are thus protected from all things spoiler-y. I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.

JK Parkin: It’s been several weeks now since Blood Hunt debuted, and we’re getting a sense for what the crossover titles will look like. Before we get to the second issue of the main series, I thought we could talk about some of them.

So far we’ve seen several tie-in issues — Doctor Strange, Avengers, Venom, a single issue of Amazing Spider-Man — as well as some tie-in miniseries like Blood Hunters, Dracula and the Spider-Man: Blood Hunt miniseries, among others. And they’re falling into two buckets — direct tie-ins that seem to have consequences for the main story, and then “side stories” that may not have any consequences to the bigger story, but are using the endless night/vampire apocalypse as a backdrop.

I think two of them in particular used it to great effect a couple of weeks ago, Avengers and Amazing Spider-Man — their stories were distinct from the main story, but boy did I enjoy both issues. Tom, I know you read both of them, so what did you think?

Tom Bondurant: Avengers and the two Amazing Spider-Man books were decent side quests. Avengers focused on Steve Rogers/Captain America putting together a vampire-hunting team, while ASM #49 and ASM: Blood Hunt #1 followed Peter Parker/Spidey through a couple of vampire fights and into a Morbius-centered plot. I felt a little baited-and-switched when ASM #49 led into a tie-in miniseries, but considering the events of ASM #50 I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Actually, it got me thinking about the overall plot of Blood Hunt. Vampires are not new to the Marvel Universe, so one of BH’s plot threads involves the vamps heading off the heroes’ attempts to use magic or Morbius’ know-how to stop them. It strikes me as kind of similar to the plot of DC’s The Final Night, where the Sun gets extinguished and the suspense comes from how it’s going to be re-lit. So here, will one of the old methods come through, or will it be something new? (Perhaps something that involves a new team of vampire hunters?) And how many BH issues will it take to answer that question?

I mean, I like watching Captain America decapitate the undead with his special silver-edged shield, but that only goes so far.

Along those lines, I liked the Doctor Strange issue, because it took Strange off the board (sort of) in a way that also put Clea on the wrong foot. It was a subplot that didn’t have to be in the main miniseries, but still felt essential to the overall story.

JK Parkin: ASM #49 worked for me as a good single issue story — a “one and done” that played with Spidey’s current status quo and the vampire setting, but not really requiring much context about Blood Hunt itself. Also the current run of ASM has been uneven at best — that whole Mary Jane in another dimension thing was a low point, the death of Ms. Marvel was clunky but Gang War I thought was pretty good. All of those have been these big, grandiose events, so it was nice to get some “local coverage” during Blood Hunt. It was almost a reprieve from the bigger arcs they’ve been serving up. The Blood Hunt miniseries seems to be a different animal altogether, with a different creative team and a plot that does tie into the bigger event, so I’m ok with it not taking over ASM for several issues.

As for Avengers, again, I like that it’s telling a separate story from the bigger Blood Hunt event. Having read the second issue of Blood Hunt, it seems that the regular Avengers team is getting plenty of time in the spotlight over there, so pulling in a 2024 version of Cap’s Kooky Quartet to go off on a side quest — with a classic vampire villain not named Dracula — was fun.

Also, I thought the first few pages introducing the team were well done … I like that even while orchestrating this huge event, Jed MacKay is still having some fun with characters he doesn’t write all the time. One of the things I’ve liked about his Moon Knight and Doctor Strange runs — and maybe why his Avengers run up until now hasn’t resonated with me — is that he does the character stuff really well. When I think about recent past Avengers runs, by Jason Aaron and Jonathan Hickman, they were heavy on plot, crazy ideas and big honkin’ stories; Hickman did the character stuff well in between, when he took the time to do it, and in Aaron’s run it seemed nonexistent for the most part. I think MacKay’s run would appeal to me more if it did slow down and focus less on the big crazy ideas and more on the interaction between the characters. This issue of Avengers did that well. 

The other tie-in book I wanted to call out was Blood Hunters, as the first issue featured a Hawkeye story by Mark Russell and Bob Quinn that I liked — which I think bodes well for their upcoming X-Factor run. I’m usually not big on the anthologies they release during events like this, but both the Hawkeye story and the J. Jonah Jameson stories were fun … neither really impacts the bigger event, and I know some people had questions about the Hawkeye story and its placement within current continuity, but both were good for what they were. And the final story brought Elsa Bloodstone, one of my favs, into the event, so props for that!

You mention a team of vampire hunters, and we seem to be getting that in Blood Hunters — Marvel has already announced a follow-up miniseries featuring Dagger, Elsa Bloodstone and two other characters will kick off in August, after the event is over. It also looks like one of the characters who just got turned into a vampire in Blood Hunt #2 is still a vampire after the event, and Cloak isn’t part of the team with Dagger, which makes me wonder how the toys will be put back into the box after this is all over.

Tom Bondurant: So it sounds like I didn’t like the ASM and Avengers issues, but I did — I am just a little concerned about the overall direction of Blood Hunt. I agree about the ups and downs of Amazing Spider-Man, and #49 was a good way to show how BH affects the current Spidey supporting cast while still offering some vamp-fighting action. I’ve also been enjoying Avengers — probably because it is pushing a lot of Justice League buttons, so I am not as concerned about characterization — so it was nice to see some Avengers reserves while the main team gets their spotlight in BH proper.

JK Parkin: Let’s segue into Blood Hunt #2, where we see many of the main players who are still left on the stage gather, and, as I mentioned, we have another shocking ending with another big vampire turn. What did you think about this issue?

Tom Bondurant: It was pretty good. I don’t know if Marvel vampires have a particular “look,” but their designs here (as depicted by Pepe Larraz) reminded me of Rafael Albuquerque’s American Vampire bloodsuckers, which were basically all teeth and super-creepy. Of course, I liked that the Avengers started figuring out how to counter Bloodstorm One and company — and specifically, that Iron Man and Vision would be especially effective. As for the vampified heroes, I have to assume that they’ll be back to normal (or close to it) by the end of the miniseries, so this issue’s last-page jump scare lost a little something. Kind of funny that Dracula and Blade have basically switched sides, though. I could see that being the status quo for a while.

Shane Bailey: I thought they figured out how to fight the lead vampires pretty quick considering we’re only on the second issue. That concerns me a little as they seemed like a major threat and that was kinda done pretty quickly. The scene overall was pretty cool, but I worry about the overall story a bit. It seems like they still have their hands full, though, and from ads I’ve seen a lot of the problems are going to carry on even after the event is over. That’s rare nowadays.

Dracula always seems to be the flip flopper in stories involving him, always stuck in the middle of warring vampire factions. And yeah, I was spoiled on this one because of some future covers that kind of ruined the surprise. I was a bit surprised that Strange is still around given last issue though. I guess the sword makes you a vamp when you’re stabbed or there was something off the page that happened?

Tom Bondurant: Doctor Strange basically separated his astral self from his vampire body in his book’s tie-in issue. I guess it’s fine that it wasn’t addressed in Blood Hunt #2, but since that was the cliffhanger of Blood Hunt #1 it seems a little anticlimactic that Astral Doc is so matter-of-fact.

You’re right that the heroes still have a lot to deal with. I could see it taking three more issues to get things under control, even if they’ve figured out how to counter the super-vampires. For one thing, I presume they’re going to de-vamp their friends and rescue their teammates. Honestly, this is why I’m not a writer — I would have gone into Aliens thinking it was going to be about two hours worth of blasting xenomorphs with space guns, because I tend not to think of plot complications.

Shane Bailey: Ha! Maybe it’s my anxiety but I think of all the complications. I’m wondering based on stuff I’ve seen if everyone won’t be de-vamped at the end of this… It would be nice to have a change that lasts a bit from these events.

Even though I didn’t have time to read all the spinoffs, I am still really enjoying the event. It feels like an old school event book to me and I’m digging that.

JK Parkin: So one thing that sticks out to me in this issue is that opening scene with Blade and the captured Avengers. Blade pontificates in a very un-Blade like manner about the tides drowning Atlantis — something you could see an ancient vampire saying, but not one who was born in our lifetime. So …is this really Blade turning on everyone, or is something else going on? I think we still have some additional twists and turns coming.

Shane Bailey: Well, in his series before Blood Hunt he was fighting an ancient demon thing that beat him and then disappeared so that’s a very good point. It’s probable that he’s possessed.

JK Parkin: I still need to check that series out. Especially after reading the Midnight Suns issue, I think it may explain some things.

Two issues in, I’ll agree with Shane that the event has been fun and has an old school event book vibe going. From a tie in standpoint, it seems like Doctor Strange and the Dracula books may be the most vital to read, with the others being optional … I wouldn’t call them “Red Sky” books, for anyone who remembers that term, but I think you can safely skip some of them. Although there are some fun things going on in Avengers and several of the others. But we can talk about more of them next time.

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