Blood Hunt Is Marvel’s Most Brutal (and Uncensored) Vampire Comic Ever

Exclusive: Writer Jed MacKay reveals what makes Blood Hunt a different kind of Marvel vampire story.

Marvel's Blood Hunt
Photo: Marvel Comics

This article appears in the new issue of DEN OF GEEK magazine. You can read all over our magazine stories here.

One of the joys of being a long-time comics reader is coming across ideas that are equal degrees clever and obvious. It’s safe to say Jed MacKay’s idea to pit Moon Knight, the avatar of an Egyptian god, against a vampire pyramid scheme is one of those. 

We saw Marc Spector and his gang of misfits from the Midnight Mission take on an Instagram influencer-esque vampire (peddling eternal undeath instead of essential oils) making a play for control of New York at night, and it was great fun. Turns out, though, that it was also the start of something very big. “As I was doing that, I’m like, ‘well, this could be bigger,’” MacKay tells Den of Geek. “So we do dispense with it in Moon Knight, but it’s always thinking, down the line, if I need something to balloon into a larger threat, [I can] always come back to these vampires.

“And then a year or so later, Tom Brevoort emailed me to say, ‘Hey, we want to do an event based around vampires. What do you got?’” 

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What MacKay had was Blood Hunt, a five-issue event book tying different parts of the Marvel Universe into one mega-story where the vampires go on the offensive, led by an unexpected villain—the Dark Lord of Transylvania himself. “If I say to my friends, ‘Hey, I’m working on Dracula,’ they say, ‘Okay, great, it’s Dracula!’” MacKay says of his infamous big bad. “It’s like putting Santa Claus in a comic. Everyone automatically knows what his whole deal is.” So, the next logical step was to throw a curveball and put Blade in charge of the vampire marauders.

The premise of Blood Hunt is that Darkhold magic suddenly springs forth from people associated with it (such as Cloak and Silhouette), darkening the skies and paving the way for a vampire assault. Heroes are attacked around the world—the Avengers at their orbiting starship base, the Impossible City, Doctor Strange in his Sanctum Sanctorum, Hunter’s Moon and Tigra outside the Midnight Mission—and overwhelmed by the empowered vampire forces. And the person leading them is none other than the slickest vamp in town. “The Blade that we see is very much not the Blade that we know,” MacKay says of Marvel’s foremost vampire hunter. “The Blade we know is very cool, very laconic, just the coolest guy in the room… this Blade seems to [have] a lot more bluster, a lot more bombast. And I think that’s a lot of fun to work with.”

While we might want to self-censor, it turns out MacKay and his above-A-List art team, Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia, don’t have to. For the first time, Marvel is running red band editions of their event books—uncensored, slightly expanded editions available only in comic shops, with the gore and horror cranked up to 11. “We’re seeing Pepe really just cut loose and Marte really drenching it with blood,” MacKay teases. “You can’t put stuff [in the red band edition] that if the reader of the regular edition missed, it would diminish their reading experience. So this is bonus stuff.” For example, at the end of issue 1, there’s a scene where Blade stabs Doctor Strange. “I’m doing the red band,” MacKay says, “and I’m like, ‘There’s probably room if you want to make that more gnarly, Pepe.’ And then, the red band edition came back with Doctor Strange cut in half. I was like, holy moly, okay.”

The Larraz/Gracia combo does so many things well, but the best thing is just how…big everything feels. Larraz’s comics history is littered with iconic imagery, whether it’s the sun setting behind Magneto in House of X #1 or any of his incredible Black Cat covers. He gets plenty of room to work here, too. “I’m very conscious of trying to keep the panel count low,” MacKay laughs. “Just his illustrations of The Impossible City, the Avengers HQ in issue one. It looks incredible, and it’s just Iron Man standing in a spot.”

Blood Hunt comes as the latest in a long chain of very successful Marvel events, and it turns out there’s a bit of internal Marvel continuity that helps with that. MacKay tells us, “Kieron Gillen [the architect of two of Marvel’s most recent successes] had a great document about how to do an event… and one of the big things is all the stuff that matters has to be in the main event series because there are going to be people who are just buying this main event series. And you need that to be a complete story.”

Of course, it’s superhero comics, so there’s always an “and then” attached to every story. MacKay’s got plans for what’s next, too. “If Blood Hunt is Secret Invasion, there’s quite a Dark Reign planned to come after it.” Ominous words for the Avengers, Hunter’s Moon, Tigra, X-Men, Doctor Strange, and all the other characters MacKay’s steering into the Marvel Universe’s future. 

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Blood Hunt #1 and 2 are on sale now. Issue #3 is out on June 12. Check out pages from Blood Hunt #2 below!