Monday, December 26, 2011

"The End" Week: Nightstalkers #18!

It used to be, if a comic wasn't selling well enough to keep getting published and was cancelled, that was it, the end. But, and this will probably be a recurring theme this week, sometimes a door closes and a window opens or something. Actually, in this case, it's like jumping one sinking ship for another, but whatever. From Nightstalkers #18, "All the Threads, Unraveled" Written by Frank Lovece, pencils by Doug Wheatley, inks by Frank Turner.

Launched as part of Marvel's Midnight Sons branding, the Nightstalkers were formerly supporting characters in the classic Tomb of Dracula: Frank Drake, a descendant of Dracula himself. Hannibal King, the private eye turned vampire. And Blade, the vampire hunter. After Dracula's alleged 'final' destruction, these characters were left unused for a few years; but now re-teamed to fight other mystical threats. And vampires, making their comeback to the Marvel Universe.

That's a little dicey, since I know in Dr. Strange all the vampires on earth were wiped out. Until they weren't, I guess; since a lot of ones that were dead undead came back, and some appear here, like the Nightstalkers' former companion Taj Nital. Taj was used as a pawn in the kidnapping of Dracula's son Janus, and Blade is forced to let himself be taken to Taj's master, Varnae. Varnae is older (and grosser) than Dracula, being the prior lord of the vampires.

Another of Varnae's slaves is 'Bloodstorm,' a clone of that would work, I'm not even going to speculate...who has stolen Drake's anti-supernatural gun, the Exorcist. How 'Linda' worked either, don't know. Although honestly, it was like Robin's anti-mummy ray gun, in that it really didn't work as advertised that often. Drake and King are using info from Strange (who may've been in creepy, masked mode then) to track down the gun. Hannibal is on the verge of quitting the Nightstalkers, since he felt they had been lied to and put together as "chumps."

As Varnae questions Blade; Salome, the new Sorceror Supreme shows up. (Again, what was going on in Dr. Strange?) She lays down her terms to Varnae, who refuses; but she's not too concerned: the Nightstalkers arrive, and either they or Varnae are going down, so she'll have at least one less enemy. Taj is staked during the battle, but so is King, who doesn't quite die. Drake faces Varnae down, overloading the Exorcist, which explodes.

In the end, Drake and King are presumed dead, with only Drake's hand remaining. (That could've been Bloodstorm's, I suppose; if Marvel had planned on bringing them back.) At their funeral, Blade is left wondering what's next, since he didn't find Janus, and Dracula may be returning...and Blade wouldn't have to wait long, since he'd face him in his new solo series, which would last ten issues. I'm not sure how many tries Blade's had, but it's been a few.

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