Superheroes Round 3: Blade
Eric Brooks is Blade, the vampire hunter who is half-vampire himself. Having most of their strengths and none of their weaknesses, Blade hunts them day and night. He blames them for the death of his mother and the thirst for blood. The latter is suppressed by a serum made by his friend and tech support guy, Whistler.
They do avoid the sparkly atrocity that seems to be so popular lately, but then there are other problems. Perhaps the biggest one is the Masquerade, but since we’ve covered that already, let’s see what else we can find…
Somebody Made Blade On Purpose
Blade is referred to as the “Daywalker” by the vampires. As it turns out, this is quite deliberate on the part of Frost, the villain of the piece. Frost is aware of an ancient prophesy, which requires the sacrifice of twelve “pureblood” vampires (born vampires, not turned from humans) as well as the blood of the Daywalker, to be fulfilled. Completing the specified ritual will supposedly turn him into La Magra, the vampire god.
So, Frost turns Blade’s pregnant mother. She dies (and later comes back with sharper teeth), and the young Blade is only partially exposed, thereby becoming the Daywalker. Frost uses Blade’s mother as a distraction to help slow him down while setting him up to be drained of blood.
Problem here is that Blade is still awesome. And stubborn. And hates vampires.
So, bottom line: Frost gets his godlike vampire powers. And then Blade kills him. Oops. Why Frost didn’t just adopt Blade as a young boy, and raise him to be fanatically devoted to the cause, I don’t know.
One of the few things that Frost gets right is working on defending himself against the standard vampire weaknesses. Can’t go out in the sunshine? Sunscreen. Well played. And the whole vampire-deity thing is desirable in part because it stops the standard weaknesses. Of course, they end up defeating him by means of a non-standard weakness. Turns out, anti-coagulants are not good for vampires.
On the other hand, Frost (and the other vampires) should re-think their use of tattoos to mark themselves and their human minions (who are typically hoping to be turned themselves). Sure, it’s kind of cool to have a mark that shows your allegiance. However, it makes it all too easy for Blade to ID a person as a minion. All you have to do is find the mark.
Even if they insist on the tattoos, they could use UV ink. Oh, wait, UV is kind of unhealthy for vampires. And googling “IR Ink” doesn’t get me anything obvious. The vampires would be better off following the recommendation from an addendum to the Evil Overlord List: “My undercover agents will not have tattoos identifying them as members of my organization.”
Speaking of vampiric fashion…
What Happens to a Vampire’s Clothes?
Whenever Blade kills off a vampire, the vampire conveniently and promptly turns into a bunch of slightly-glowing ash that quickly cools. No bodies for the cops to pin on him, which is helpful.
The problem? The vampires’ clothes get turned to ash, too.
This could imply several things. The conclusion that the clothes are part of the vampire is off, since they’re seen in different outfits, and their clothing doesn’t heal with them. The other two possibilities are that the heat from their death ashes their clothes, or that there’s some sort of magic aura when they die that takes their immediate possessions with them.
Either way, this is a problem. In the former case, where it’s the energy of the dying vampire that toasts their clothes, this implies very high temperatures. Anybody (like, say, Blade) in the vicinity will be burned by the bits that go flying. And then, of course, there’s the potential for hot vampire ashes to set things on fire.
If it’s actually some kind of weird magic thing, well… that is kind of weird. You would think that this could then cause all the vampire’s possessions to catch on fire, or to accidentally ash anything close to the dying undead. Regardless, the brightly glowing and clearly hot ashes should still have the potential to set things on fire, damage the ground that they fall on, and that never seems to happen.
The vampires in the setting are supposed to work by means of a viral infection. Anyone who’s infected by the virus, which requires transmission via bodily fluids (saliva getting into the victim’s blood), will eventually succumb to vampirism.
This is a not uncommon approach to “explaining” vampires (or zombies, for that matter), but it does have some problems, even when overlooking the the difficulty of having a single virus cause so many serious changes all at once. For instance, the consequences of the retrovirus infection supposedly include an inability to produce hemoglobin. Since that’s the protein that red blood cells use to carry oxygen to tissues, and a given red blood cell only lasts about three to four months before getting recycled, the vampire is going to be running dangerously low on red blood cells only a few weeks after turning. This is presented as the reason that vampires need to suck blood.
The problem here is that the blood cells in question will be broken down in the vampire’s stomach. Including the hemoglobin that the vampires supposedly need. To make this work, the vampires would have to actually need the break-down products from the blood (such as heme, which based on some skimming can be absorbed through the small intestine), or else have differently configured stomachs. In the latter case, the stomach is probably much less acidic, and less capable of breaking down other foods. While this might match up with the fact that we never see the vampires eating anything other than blood, it does leave the question of where they get the calories to do all their acrobatics, feats of super-human strength and speed healing. The reactions to garlic and UV and so on are explained as “allergic” reactions, but it’s not clear why a vampire should go up like tinder when you stake them. It’s also unclear how you can get some kind of partial exposure in utero to make Blade, rather than a scary baby vampire.
How this semi-scientific explanation of vampirism lines up with the other aspects of the story is also a bit frustrating. The vampire virus coexists with a magic ritual using one member apiece from specific vampire families and transforming Frost into some sort of strange blood-monster. For bonus points, the ritual is described by an ancient prophesy. None of these things is given any sort of scientific explanation akin to that of vampirism itself, or even an attempt at one, and the contrast is jarring. Perhaps this is a matter of taste, but if you’re going for technomagic, I’d prefer a neater blending — in this case, make the virus clearly magical to account for everything it can do.
Magic virus or no, Frost does well in terms of taking advantage of modern technology… but still needs to know better than to create his own worst enemy.