One of the most peculiar yet fascinating villains in the Marvel universe is Dracula. Yes, that Dracula — the classic villain from many a movie and book is a legitimate, in-canon villain. It’s one big reason why I’m very excited for Jason Aaron’s new story arc, “The Fall of the Castle Dracula,” as it utilizes this character, but also expands on the vampire lore in the universe.
So what’s it about?
Read our preview.
Why does this matter?
David Marquez draws this issue and at this point he should be a very familiar name. His work on The Defenders was out of this world and he brings that realistic grit to this series it thrives in.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue sets up the war between vampires, and how the Avengers are stuck in the middle of it, quite well. It establishes the players, the stakes, and establishes Blade as a worthy member of the team. There are multiple fight scenes thanks to battles taking place in a variety of locations which allows Aaron and Marquez to play around with different Avenger groupings. Seeing Hulk and Ghost Rider fight zombies is particularly fun and it’s nice to see Aaron give Robbie extra attention in this issue. It appears he’s getting the most character work in the series as a whole after his triumphant turn in the first arc.
Possibly the strongest element of this issue is the captions. The placement and creativity of them are unique and well done. Take for instance a scene with Iron Man and Black Panther. In the captions, Aaron reveals Tony’s take on killing vampires, followed by T’Challa’s. It’s very different and it’s a clever way to show the difference between these two men. In another, the captions are given the most badass line of the issue, pointing out Captain America doesn’t attend church because “some men are just too busy standing to ever stop and kneel.” Blade has tons of fun one-liners too. More than once I pondered what a Jason Aaron-written Blade movie would be like. Maybe someday we’ll see it.
Marquez draws a solid issue, flexing his muscles to show off a variety of talents. The final full-page splash cliffhanger utilizes light hauntingly well. The new main villain Shadow Colonel wears a mask, and yet Marquez articulates emotion with the placement of character and panel work. The reveal of this character (see below) and his team is quite something too, with clever placement of characters, interesting details for each, and a general sense that these characters mean business. Hell, Marquez even pulled off massive pouch design around the Shadow Colonel’s waist.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The issue is a bit stuffy in its pacing. That’s partly due to some lengthy captions that pepper the issue, but also art that doesn’t always include backgrounds. Flat or streaking backgrounds can enhance the action in a scene, but used too much, it can make the scene appear as if it was shot on a green screen without backgrounds put in. Page count seems to be a culprit in this too with full-page splash worthy panels (like in Captain America’s scene) being reduced to a third of the page. I couldn’t tell you if Blade’s final scene was taking place in a box or a giant room.
Is it good?
A great kickoff to some Avengers vs. vampire action. Aaron and Marquez have a good handle on the characters and I can’t wait to see how a vampire war changes the team and the world. Make no mistake, this is good horror comics meets action comics. This is a fang-tastic first issue in a story that does not suck.