Each day in February, Dibbs is showcasing iconic comic book issues that you should collect! Today’s comic is Tomb of Dracula #10! It might not seem like a key issue, but this one marks the first appearance of Blade!
More comics are coming to our collectibles digital marketplace in the coming months, but be sure to grab some fracs of The Incredible Hulk #181, the first appearance of Wolverine now available on Dibbs!
The Daywalker Arrives…. Kinda
In 1954 the Comics Code Authority was created by the Comics Magazine Association of America. It’s creation was the comic industry’s attempt to avoid government regulations from the growing concerns that many comic books were harmful to children. The code was used by publishers to self-regulate their comic books from graphic depictions of violence, gore, and sexual innuendo. Unfortunately, the Code was overreaching and unnecessarily strict. For example, “No comic magazine shall use the words ‘horror’ or ‘terror’ in its title.” The Code would help police the industry until it was updated in 1971, lifting many of the more strict regulations.
The CCA’s update of the Code allowed Marvel to introduce a new major character, Dracula. Tomb of Dracula followed the famed vampire as he fought different vampire hunters, but was never taken down in full. Issue #10 is where the iconic vampire slayer, Blade, was introduced as a side character. The character is significantly different from the one we know today, but he was still able to kick the same amount of ass!
We open on a young couple being attacked by a trio of vampires in Dracula’s Legion. This attack is thwarted by none other than Blade. He swiftly stakes the vampires with his wooden knives which kills them in an instant. Fellow hunter, Quincy Harker, yells at Blade about killing Dracula’s minions as they could be useful at eventually tracking the monster down. Blade explains that he’ll continue to hunt for Dracula his own way.
Meanwhile, Dracula is in disguise on a private cruise ship. He’s playing the part of Count Dracula, an ancestor who suffers from a rare blood disease that requires transfusions. The boat’s guests are charmed by Dracula’s disguise, but he later reveals his plans to take control over the wealthy and influential people aboard the ship. He lures a young woman to his private quarters, where he feasts on her blood. Before he can completely drain her, he asks his assistant, Clifton Graves, to help watch her while he attends separate business.
Dracula hypnotizes the ship's captain and reveals his intentions to the passengers. One passenger tries to shoot Dracula, but it's no use. The vampire simply laughs it off and throws the passenger overboard. Another passenger reveals a crucifix, which damages Dracula. The passengers are able to overpower and temporarily subdue the vampire king. Unbeknownst to Dracula and the passengers, Blade has sneaked onto the ship with the intention of slaying the legendary foe.
Dracula manages to turn into mist and escape the mob of passengers, but is then challenged by Blade to a fight. The two trade blows but ultimately Blade is no match for Dracula, as the vampire easily overpowers the hunter. But at that moment, Dracula’s former female captive interrupts the battle by calling out to him. This subtle distraction allows Blade to regain control of the fight. Dracula then throws his female captive at him, and explains that he’d ordered the captain to plant explosives on the ship. The vampire king turns into a bat and makes his escape.
Blade helps everyone but Clifton Graves off the ship, leaving Dracula’s former assistant to perish in the explosion. Dracula vows to seek revenge on Blade.
Most of Blade’s legacy lives on through his most recent modern iterations. The character was never intended to be a main character, but over the years fans grew to appreciate the cold-blooded attitude he carried. The character was most famously played by Wesley Snipes in Blade, Blade II, and Blade: Trinity. While the movies weren’t critically received, the portrayal of Blade would stick in the comics.
Read More Blade
Blade: Undead Again by Marc Guggenheim and Howard Chaykin
Blade: Undead by Daylight by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan
Nightstalkers by Dan G. Chichester and Ron Garney