A Vampire Eat Vampire World: Reviewing ‘Death Of Doctor Strange: Blade’ #1
by Scott Redmond
Death Of Doctor Strange: Blade is a perfect example of how to do tie-in stories to events, maintaining the flavor and appeal of a character/world while tying them into the larger events. Everything about this book feels so unique and stylish, befitting the title character. This is a creative team and concept that Marvel most assuredly needs to tap for the inevitable ongoing Blade series that will come out closer to the new film.
The murder of Doctor Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme, has sent ripples across not only his home dimension but all the other dimensions. Various magical walls that were maintained by the supreme sorcerer have come crumbling down, as vast forces come to lay claim and siege to the Earth and beyond.
Some threats though, are a bit smaller and hit closer to home.
So far the various tie-ins to The Death of Doctor Strange event have wonderfully showcased various aspects of the magical realms, but also threats of varying levels. Some are direr to the whole world, some are things that the doctor entrusted to his friends to deal with in case of his demise. With Death Of Doctor Strange: Blade #1 we get one of those smaller but very emotionally heavy stories connected to Strange’s death.
Danny Lore has been making quite a name at Marvel and comics in general recently for very good reason. Their ability to get right to the heart of the matter through tight compelling character work is top-notch. Right off the bat (vampire bats…sorry, truly), we are able to fully get into Blade’s head about his current situation (the Sherriff of the new vampire nation working alongside Dracula) and the death of his friend and ally Strange. It’s a 100% perfect accurate choice to go with the third person omniscient style narration boxes because Blade isn’t the type of person that shares his feelings and emotions so it makes sense for us not to ‘hear’ these internal moments from the daywalker himself.
Compared to other tie-ins to this event, as stated above, the threat here is relatively ‘minor’ in scale as some beings including an emotional vampire from another realm slip through the barriers now that Strange is gone. This being preys upon the vampire nation and Blade himself, till the vampire slayer creatively and masterfully brings the threat to a stunning end. While the threat isn’t big in a whole dimension/world aspect, it is still very important on a character level.
It’s very intriguing to see the way that Lore not only navigates the idea of old foes like Blade and Dracula working together, but also the clash of the old guard of vampires and the newer guard about their future and how it mirrors so much of the politics and generational divides within our own reality. While the story has an ending, there is still so much left on the table as not all things can be wrapped up with a situation this tense and it left me very much feeling like we need to see a mini-series or full series with Blade and this status quo from this creative team right away.
Just like with the perfect way to do the captions because Blade is not a typical character, a book like this needed art that didn’t fit the mold of how we normally see books of a ‘superhero’ nature. We need something very stylish and out of the box like Blade, and we get that here with Dylan Burnett and Mike Spicer. Just staring at the first pages hits you with this almost classic Marvel sort of feeling with the style and the bright and lighter touch to the colors, that still are ominously shadowy when needed.
With his art, Burnett is able to capture a realistic approach with the scenery, full of detail and an energy all their own, while also going for some more fantastical approaches to the vampires and other beings in this story. These aren’t your movie vampires, looking like they rolled off the latest fashion magazine with some fangs. Each has their entirely own look in a way, with a lot of the design making sure it’s remembered that these are transformed undead ‘monsters of the night,’ with their fangs and red eyes and other marks on full display at all times since this is their own nation.
Putting a finger on the style and how to describe it is never fully easy, but the best way to describe the vibe here is horror meets noir in a way. Just the shot of Blade standing in the blood shower looking grim as he mourns with terrifying shadows of vampires cast on the wall next to him sets the overall tone quite well. There is an ever-present darkness in the way Spicer approaches the colors here, even when there is a lightness to the affair at the same time, making sure to show off this world that straddles the light and the darkness constantly.
There is a great use of white space through many of the pages, especially in ways to make some of the action pop even more as it gets brutal without needing to be as graphic in nature.
Rounding out the team is Travis Lanham who adds a whole other energy with the lettering here, bringing the aforementioned caption boxes and all the dialogue to life. There are some nice little flares of personality within the various bits of dialogue, giving each character’s a bit more life. I love SFX in comics, as my reviews will often show, and there is a lot of meaty awesome stylish SFX to be found here. The best kind of SFX has its own energy and personality and just kicks a scene up more notches, often being fun in their own way no matter what the overall tone of the book might be.
That to me describes what is offered here, as the various SFX all look different with their own colors and fonts and stand out. While at the same time there is a delicate dance being done here where the amount of SFX never becomes too much (though personally, I’m not sure what one would even consider too much SFX), aiming for the best times to drop into any given scene.
Death Of Doctor Strange: Blade #1 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.