Writer: Marc Guggenheim, Art: Dave Wilkins, Letters: Travis Lanham
Years ago in Madripoor, the mutant Wolverine and the vampire hunter Blade found themselves thrown together as allies of convenience against a vampire cult referring to themselves as "The Creed", and despite the somewhat fractious relationship between the two heroes, they managed to banish the threat...or so it seemed.
Back in the present day, Wolverine is hunting a former member of the "Mutant Liberation Front" who has been racking up the kills, but when his foe is impaled through the heart on a wooden stake, they promptly explode into a pyre of fire and ash. Elsewhere, Blade is battling a vampire Count who has somehow added eye beams to his arsenal of unholy weapons.
Both Wolverine and Blade find themselves with no explanation bar one, and that explanation isn't very encouraging at all — someone is turning mutants into vampires!
An ancient scroll recovered by Wolverine confirms that not only have The Creed returned, and also prophesies the coming of their vampire Messiah, but most shockingly of all indicates that Messiah will in fact be Blade. Meanwhile, Blade's investigations uncover that the vampire Messiah will be a mutant. It's a contradiction that is only going to end up one way — with Wolverine vs Blade!
Whilst a team-up between Wolverine and Blade seems like a perfect fit, Wolverine vs Blade doesn't really work for a number of reasons.
Chief among these reasons is that, whilst the idea of a hero vs hero battle is a tried and tested — some might say tired — trope of the comic book business, the circumstances required to get Wolverine and Blade at each others' throats seem contrived to say the least.
Both characters completely ignore all of their skill, instincts, many years of experience in dealing with the strange and supernatural — and apparently also their keenly heightened senses — in favour of simply assuming that if a dusty piece of paper created by a bunch of sneaky vampires, or the word of a back alley snitch, tells them that the other is going to end up as some sort of almighty undead overlord, then it must be true!
Of course by the end of the issue it all becomes clear why the enemy seems to wear a familiar face, but on the basis of this issue, whatever it is that Wolverine is "the best there is" at, it sure isn't thinking. Meanwhile, the world's greatest vampire hunter apparently isn't capable of telling when the person standing in front of him isn't a vampire!
The second problem I had with the story is that even though it takes part across a bumper 40-page special, it still manages to feel condensed, as our two heroes not only uncover a plot to turn mutants into vampires, plus a prophecy of apocalyptic proportions, but also manage to resolve both problems in the space of what feels like a long lunch break.
If it were possible to resolve the clumsy circumstances that throw Wolverine and Blade together in the first place, then a story about vampires turning mutants into the undead or one about a vampire second-coming could both have easily and justifiably have been written across four or five issues, such is their merit as ideas. Sadly cramming them all into such a relatively small space results in the reader getting the worst of all worlds.
I don't want to sound like I'm being too cruel to Wolverine vs Blade, because it's not a bad read, and Dave Wilkins' extremely gory art is excellent — apart from maybe channeling a little bit too much Jamie Foxx!
On balance however, Wolverine vs Blade is just a little bit disappointing, seeming to exist primarily for the purpose of constructing a couple of big set-piece battles and a joke about roasting marshmellows, and is a read that's much easier to enjoy if you don't think about it too much and make the effort to ignore everything you know about the two characters involved in it.