One of the big things in superhero comics these days is an over-arching story spread across multiple titles. Recently “The Curse of the Mutants” was an arc that covered an attempt by vampires to take over the world, starting with mutants like the X-Men (figuring that super-powered vampires would make it easier to take over). The whole thing started with a limited edition issued dubbed “The Death of Dracula.” In this, a hitherto unknown son of the Vampire Lord himself mounts a successful coup, killing his father and setting into motion the plot.
Dracula’s head and corpse are (foolishly) not destroyed but dispersed. The head ends up with the vampires of the sea, prompting Namor the Submariner to go on a quest to retrieve it. You see, Cyclops (leader of the X-Men) figures no one is more likely to take down the new Undead Ruler than the former one. Meanwhile, another team goes to retrieve the body. Along the way, Dracula’s son Xarus puts into play his plan of luring certain mutants into a trap, figuring they’ll be the vanguard of the army he needs to convert the rest of mutant-kind. Once he has them, the rest of the world will follow…!
Honestly, the story and artwork in this meet pretty high standards, not least in making the story seem realistic in some sense. Cyclops shows a sign of himself that one would never guess from his squeaky clean image in the movies–a devious one that makes victory possible. Blade shows up, eager to help but furious at the whole idea of reviving Dracula. He equates this with bringing back Hitler to fight Saddam Hussein. We get a shout-out to the 1970s storyline in which Dracula tried to make Storm his bride (naturally she hasn’t aged int the decades that have passed–just like Batman doesn’t ever really slow down or look a day older). More amusingly, we get to see Deadpool–the most entertainingly insane would-be superhero and certified master of mayhem–pulled into a side story. He rescues a young woman for example from a vampire, and compliments her on how really sexy she looks holding a firearm like that. She points it at him. He then thinks “Wow–she loves me!”
But along the way, we do start to get some interesting new background details about the Marvel Universe, especially vis-a-vis the undead. In shades of the White Wolf role-playing games, we meet multiple vampiric “sects” that might seem familiar to afficiados of both “Masquerade” and “Requiem.” Included are vampires of enormous hideousness, vampires who like to work behind the scenes and so seem like evil businessmen, a mystical sect of vampires who starve themselves to achieve visions, sensual siren-like vampires, and the like. Exactly where this new son of Dracula comes from is anyone’s guess, but we do get to see a little of Janus, a previous offspring of the Impaler (even if there’s no sight of Lilith, his daughter who once had her own run-in with the X-Men way back when). And of course we get to see the vampires of the sea, with hints of some dark history wherein they came to be (and perhaps linked to the original Atlantis–established in the Marvel Universe as the place were vampires were first created).
As per usual, the advertising campaign made much of who might be changed as a result of the story. “Civil War” a few years back was focused on who was going to be on whose side. “Invasion” likewise fueled speculation over who was (or was not) a Skrull. Some cover art proved even beautiful–if deceptive. One two Mutants actually became vampires in the story, none portrayed in the artwork ahead of time.
For the record, at story’s end Jubilee has become undead (so did Wolverine but he got better). Blade wants her destroyed but Cyclops won’t hear of it. What they manage to do with her in upcoming issues presumably is to intended to tread the same ground as other heroic vampires fighting their nature–Vampirella, Nick Knight, Angel, etc.