By Duane Swierczynski (writer), Tim Green (artist), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist)
The Story: Someone or something is killing vampire hunters all over the world, and Blade’s investigation into the matter uncovers a terrifying revelation that will change his life’s work forever.
Randomly Assorted Thoughts: Seeing as how Victor Gischler did such an amazing job asserting the role and dominance of the vampire nation in his “Death of Dracula” one shot, I was immediately curious to see how this storyline would impact Marvel’s premiere vampire hunter. What I took from this issue, oddly, was a caption from Blade towards the end of the story where, being the last man standing against Xarus and his footsoldiers, he realizes “Killing us Slayers–His prime opposition–wasn’t his endgame. Merely an item on a To-Do List.” And therein lies the crux of why this issue didn’t work for me: to a degree, it exposes how irrelevant Blade and his vampire slaying ilk have become in this brave new world where vampires can now walk and hunt in daylight. Not that Blade’s any less good at what he does, but he didn’t win his battle against Xarus in this issue as much as he barely escaped with his tail between his legs.
“Curse of the Mutants” is, obviously, a storyline tailor-made for the X-Men. There’s nothing wrong with that, and if anything I credit this storyline with bringing me back into the X-Universe, but even as I applaud what I feel it’s doing for the X-Men, I’m a bit taken back by what it’s not doing for Blade; this should have been Blade’s moment to shine, it should have been the perfect opportunity to try launching a new series for him, but he instead comes off seeming strangely fragile and inconsequential, slightly out of his league as the vampires barely pay attention to the vampire hunters and instead set their sights on the mutant populace.
To add insult to injury, this issue doesn’t add any new knowledge to our understanding of the storyline. If anything, Blade seems to be playing catch up throughout it and trying to piece together what we the readers have known for a few months now; in fact, what he learned in this issue, Blade had already shared with the X-Men like two or three weeks ago in X-Men #2. So with that in mind, where’s the incentive to buy this comic? Swierczynski has long been a hit or miss writer for my tastes, and I probably liked as many issues of his run on “Iron Fist” as I hated. He didn’t quite sell me on this storyline, but it was almost good enough that I’d like to see him have another chance writing Blade on a mini-series or, God forbid, another ongoing series. I was less impressed with Green’s art. His vaguely European style made action scenes look brutal and appropriately gory, but in the quieter moments of Blade and the other slayers walking around and talking I was irritated with their wiry, almost anorexic bodies and ridiculous wuxia swords that were always so impossibly long they could be captured in a single panel.
Conclusion: If this issue had come out a month or two ago, certainly before the release of X-Men #2, I think I could have been more interested in it as well as Blade’s supporting role in this storyline. Sadly, it came out a little too late for me to care and I finished this issue feeling sorry that Swierczysnki couldn’t find something more relevant to do with Blade. I’m hoping the Daywalker’s role will be improved and expanded in the pages of X-Men. Until we find out, I don’t think you should bother with this one.