Despite appearances, Blade is a team player – and just might be one of the best additions to the Avengers in recent memory.
Blade might seem like an odd choice for Avenger. After all, the character exists solely to wipe out vampires, who typically aren’t on the Avengers’ radar. But for all his loner, bad-boy image, Blade has actually existed as a team player several times during his history – and his surprising turn as an Avenger in Jason Aaron’s run is proving beneficial for both the team and the character.
Blade first appeared in The Tomb of Dracula #10 in July 1973 as a reoccurring antagonist for the title character. During Blade’s initial appearances, the most potent vampire threat to the Marvel universe was Dracula himself, who came close to claiming Storm as one of his vampire brides. Over the years, he would make sporadic appearances, and in the ’90s, he would join the Midnight Sons – a team of supernatural heroes that also included the likes of Ghost Rider, Morbius, and several others. But this team existed mostly as an extension of his vampire hunting activities. The character would doubtlessly receive the biggest boost from three Wesley Snipes movies starting in 1998, which arguably started the comic book movie craze.
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Blade wouldn’t join a team of superheroes until Paul Cornell’s underappreciated Captain Britain and MI:13 in 2008. Blade used his British birthright to join the team, only to immediately stake his intended target Spitfire, a superheroine who was technically a vampire. Thankfully, Spitfire survives the encounter, and despite some rather obvious workplace tensions, the two actually end up in a romantic relationship with lasts throughout the series. Blade would once again fight Dracula, who had seemingly taken control of Spitfire, but it turned out the latter was acting as a double agent for MI:13 the entire time.
Before joining the Avengers, Blade was also seen as a member of Strikeforce, which also included Angela, Hellstrom, Spectrum, Spider-Woman, Wiccan, and Winter Soldier. The comic further played on Blade’s reluctance to be a team player, seen in one issue where he laments having to save his teammates repeatedly after they get separated. However, Blade would make an even bigger commitment to superheroics when he would accept Black Panther’s offer to join the Avengers, as the World’s Greatest Heroes now face threats from all sides, not the least of which is vampires.
While Blade’s interaction with superheroes from all corners of the Marvel universe further enriches his character, it also helps adds a new perspective to the Avengers themselves. For example, Avengers #38 shows Blade observing the Phoenix Force with Thor. Blade points out his only expertise on birds lies in that he “stabbed a whole lotta people who turned into bats.” But oversimplification aside, Blade knows the Phoenix presents a major problem, and he’s also observant enough to note that Thor has a connection to the Phoenix, likely hinting at Odin’s tryst with the Phoenix Force millions of years earlier. Thor, whom Blade comically refers to as “Viking Jesus”, says the Phoenix can’t be trusted, and he just might know how to make the legendary firebird bleed.
While Blade joining the Avengers might look like nothing more than a way to raise the Daywalker’s profile ahead of his own MCU reboot, it’s clear Aaron and company have quite a bit more planned for Blade and his new allies. Over the course of several issues, Blade has crossed swords with everything from vampires to the Brood, improving both his characterization and that of his teammates in the process. Hopefully, Blade’s tenure with the team will continue, sharpening his characterization for issues to come.
Next: How Long Will Blade Last as Marvel’s Sorcerer’s Supreme?
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