Thanks to the Wesley Snipes movies, Blade is one of Marvel’s most recognizable characters. It’s one of four Marvel franchises to be turned into an anime by Madhouse Entertainment. And the character adds some diversity to Marvel’s line-up, so the company has plenty of reasons to support a new Blade monthly. But despite several attempts, it hasn’t been successful in the past. So I’ve started wondering how you could make that work.
I think you need a really impressive creative team to successfully relaunch a title with any B character. Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon were able to revive the Punisher. There are a handful of A-list writers who could guarantee sales when paired with a decent artist. But it’s entirely possible that Bendis, Brubaker, Millar, Loeb, Jason Aaron and Geoff Johns won’t be interested in reviving Blade.
Otherwise, it might work to use another title to set up a Blade monthly, though it would probably the writer of that book would have to be on the creative team. If you’re using Future Foundation to set up the status quo for a new Blade monthly, it’s a lot less likely to work if Hickman isn’t writing Blade.
Blade has high name recognition, but he doesn’t have much of a rogues gallery or supporting cast. There’s no compelling or appealing secret identity. Those are the types of things that keep readers buying a title. And it’s something that the next guys to write a book with the character will need to address.
If I was launching a Blade book, there would be a “Pilot” arc in another title. It would be 2-4 issues long, and establish a mystery for the series, along with a new status quo. Some superheroes face a supernatural menace in Hoboken, and discover that Blade’s there, living under an assumed identity. It turns out someone mesmerized him, so that he forgot that he was ever a vampire slayer. He regains most of his memories, and helps kick the ass of the supernatural menace. He decides to keep living under his new identity, ostensibly to figure out why some of his memories are missing, and who’s manipulating him. He doesn’t want to admit it to himself, but he also actually likes this life and doesn’t want to abandon it. So when the regular series starts, he would have a secret identity. To the extent that Buffy had a secret identity.
It’s a bit cheap, but it means that Blade will have a clear status quo by the time the first issue comes out. And the first arc of the book would be the most shamelessly commercial Blade story I can think of: a takedown of Twilight. Because this is what the target audience for a Blade comic would pay to see.
Considering the anger amongst comic book fans directed at stuff like Twilight, this would get some attention, which is what a fledgling monthly would need. You would have to extend something that’s been done as a gag image or a three page sequence in Ultimate Avengers into a decent TPB-length storyline. It wouldn’t have to be an accurate take on Twilight, as it would be more of a parody about how comic fans view the series. It would be the story of Blade investigating why a group of vampires are so interested in a seemingly unremarkable Mormon teenage girl in Phoenix, Arizona.
The second arc would also be shamelessly commercial, and something that can only be done in a book published by Marvel. It would involve B-level supervillains becoming the vampire servants of a mysterious master. You’d need characters other line-editors are willing to sacrifice, but who still have a decent amount of name recognition.
Eventually, the book should be able to stand on its own without gimmicks, and you could have more traditional stories. You could try to make the secret identity permanent, or do away with it; whatever serves the story. If you can pull if off you might just have a Blade monthly capable of surviving the departure of the initial creative team.