Dracula vs the Marvel Universe! Blood Hunt – Making Comics Simple

Blood Hunt #1 Main Cover Pepe Larraz Banner

It’s chaos on the streets of New York, and every other city in the Marvel Universe, as Dracula descends in bloody violence.

That’s right, the Blood Hunt is upon us!

What is Marvel’s Blood Hunt all about?

Unveiled at Marvel’s Next Big Thing panel way back at NYCC 2023, Blood Hunt is the publisher’s 2024 summer blockbuster event.

Written by the illustrious Jed Mackay (Avengers, Doctor Strange, Moon Knight) and drawn by masterful artist Pepe Larraz (Big Game, House of X, X-Men), the event is helmed by two of Marvel’s brightest stars over the last few years.

In terms of the narrative itself, Blood Hunt kicks off with Dracula, leader of the Vampire Nation, finally saying enough is enough and launching a full scale assault on the human population of Earth. Marvel’s official announcement described it as such:

‘The skies have gone dark, the sun hiding its face from the carnage to come. The children of the night, the vampires, have risen from the dark and hidden places of the world as one to drown the Marvel Universe in blood. Earth’s final night has fallen—can even the heroes of this doomed world stem the tide of blood that is to come?

‘Blood Hunt’ Drags the Marvel Universe into Darkness

Mackay and Larraz’s epic main event is 5 issues long, and pits the Avengers, the Midnight Mission, the Midnight Suns and more against vampiric foes old and new. Designed by Larraz himself, a cabal of all-new undead villains will be debuting during the pages of this series (a preview of which you can see in Kael Ngu’s variant cover for #2 below).

So, is Blood Hunt an Avengers story?

Not quite. The Avengers certainly feature prominently, and Mackay is writing the current ongoing Avengers series so expect some overlap (and a tie-in or too) there. However, this is very much a Marvel Universe event in the way that Civil War or Secret Invasion were.

As you’ll see on various covers, other non-Avenger characters are front and centre too. Miles Morales Spider-Man is present (and interestingly there’s no sign of Peter Parker so far). Tigra and Hunter’s Moon from Mackay’s Moon Knight are also set to be major players, as is Blade.

Do I need to read anything before Blood Hunt?

As with any big event, or even most regular comics these days, there’s often the assumption that there’s a daunting amount of required reading to get through before you can read the story you actually came for.

In Blood Hunt’s case, that’s far from the truth. Yes, there are storylines that build up to the series, but the event itself is remarkably self-contained by design. Dracula and his Vampire Nation have been busy over the last few years, but they’ve been busy in such a way that writer Jed Mackay has likely acknowledged that even the most diligent Marvel reader won’t have caught all their appearances.

So no, you don’t have to read anything before you read Blood Hunt.

However, if you don’t want some background context (and to dive in to some stellar stories in the process) then these are the books that are most directly related to the series:

Jed Mackay’s Avengers, Moon Knight and Doctor Strange

In what could be referred to as the Mackay-verse, these three titles are all penned by the writer of Blood Hunt himself and lead in, to various degrees, to the event.

The strongest bit of background you’ll find is in Moon Knight. For one, it’ll provide important context on why Marc Spector is currently off the table and why Hunters Moon and Tigra are filling in for him in the meantime. Additionally though, Marc and his friends at the Midnight Mission have been having run-ins with infestations of vampires all throughout the series’ 30-issue run.

Avengers will provide some context on the current formation of the team, helmed by Captain Marvel. And similar to Moon Knight, Doctor Strange and its preceding series Strange (starring Stephen’s wife and Sorceror Supreme of the Dark Dimension, Clea) will illuminate what’s been going on in the magical corners and darkened alleys of New York City of late, some elements of which relate closer to Blood Hunt than others.

The Vampire Nation: Wolverine and Avengers (2018)

In terms of the wider build-up that’s been occuring throughout Marvel, the two biggest examples can be found in the pages of Jason Aaron’s Avengers and Benjamin Percy’s Wolverine.

The former sees the previous incarnation of the super-team taking the fight to Dracula in his newly formed Vampire Nation in Chernobyl, while the later actually sets up a key plot point that will undoubtedly feature in this year’s event.

Specifically, in Wolverine (2020) Vol. 1, Logan is abducted (via Omega Red) and brought to a coven of vampires, who syphon off some of his blood. This has dire consequences, as Dracula uses that blood and its in-built healing factor in a blood transfusion that ultimately allows him to walk in the daylight.

No longer tethered to the shadows, and with a bone to pick with the Avengers, it’s easy to see how Marvel have been laying the groundwork for this conflict for years now.

Vampire Hunters: Blade and Bloodline

Finally, we have a couple of characters that longterm Marvel fans have likely been curious about. That being resident daywalker, Blade, and his daughter, Bloodline.

Renowned writer Bryan Edward Hill recently kicked off a new run with the legendary vampire hunter in a ten-issue long series. Similarly, Blade’s daughter, Bloodline, was recently introduced to Marvel Comics canon by Danny Lore and Karen S. Darboe within the last few years.

There was also a one-shot called Blade: Vampire Nation #1 from Mark Russell and Dave Watcher that spun out of Aaron’s Avengers storyline.

Collected in the Unforgiven trade paperback, Blade: Vampire Nation #1 chronicles Blade’s time as sheriff of the Vampire Nation, and the inevitable trouble he encouters as part of it. Not essential reading, but great for added texture and background to the action-packed events to come.

The Complete List of Main Issues, Tie-Ins and One-Shots

In total, Blood Hunt spans 59 separate issues. That’s not the largest event Marvel has ever published, but it’s not small by any means.

As a result, it’s helpful to breakdown how all these different issues figure in to the overall picture. And, as always, it’s worth repeating that if all you want is the core story then the five issues of Blood Hunt will be designed to be read on their own, without any supplementary material.

While the title hasn’t released yet, Mackay has proven repeatedly that he knows how to handle the interconnected nature of a shared universe. His stories manage to maintain a sense of individual identity while also building on and adding to the wider Marvel canon. Because of that, I’m confident that Blood Hunt #1-5 will be a comprehensive experience to read on its own.

Blood Hunt #1-5 – The Main Event

As mentioned above, if all you want is the core story, then Blood Hunt #1-5 will be perfectably serviceable.

There is also a lead-in story in the Free Comic Book Day 2024: Blood Hunt/X-men #1 issue that releases just prior, which should be collected alongside the main series in the inevitable trade paperback collection.

Given Mackay’s authorship of Avengers, Doctor Strange and Vengeance of the Moon Knight, reading their tie-in issues will also give a fuller picture of Mackay’s wider vision. While not necessary for the event itself, they will undoubtedly provide some of the most relevant bits of context and character development.

Relevant Tie-Ins

Of the tie-ins on offer, there are certain entries that seem likely to add more to the central narrative than the rest. For those looking to get a more fleshed out, if not entirely comprehensive, Blood Hunt experience then the following issues seem earmarked as important.

First, the largest tie-in mini-series Blood Hunters appears set to be the closest thing the event has to a companion series outside of things like the Avengers.

This is significant, as unlike all the other tie-ins, Blood Hunters is an anthology mini-series. Each issue presents readers with 3 new stories, each from different creative teams. This book will chart how different corners of the Marvel Universe responds to the vampiric threat, beginning with check-ins with Hawkeye, Man-Wolf and Cloak & Dagger.

Secondly, if you want to follow the adventures of Blade and his daughter Bloodline in greater detail, the Dracula: Blood Hunt and Midnight Suns: Blood Hunt three-part mini-series are equally important. Given how closely tied into Marvel’s vampire lore these characters are, and how connected Blade has been to the build-up to this event over the last few years, these series feel like the closest thing to required reading that you can get in a side story.

X-Shaped Bite Marks

Even as the Krakoan Age comes to a fierry close, the X-Men still dominate a large portion of Marvel’s publishing line.

Most significant within the 5 different x-related tie-ins is Wolverine: Blood Hunt from Tom Waltz and Juan Jose Ryp. Remember who I mentioned a confrontation between Logan and the Vampire Nation above? Yeah, this series promises to pay off that build up, and finally draw that plotline to a bloody close.

If, like me, you’ve been waiting for the delayed gratification of that plotline to resolve for close to 4 years now, you’ll be ecstactic.

In addition to that, there are also 4 different one-shots dedicated to four different x-women also emboldening the Blood Hunt.

These series include: Magik, Jubilee, Psylock and Laura Kinney: The Wolverine. While it’s unlikely any of them will be required reading, given their short nature and the fact that none of them are set to feature in the main series, they will help convey what the best of the mutant population is up to during the event through their patchwork storytelling.

Of note, Steve Foxe (current writer of Dead X-Men in the Fall of X era) will be penning Psylocke: Blood Hunt #1 – perhaps, if there’s any issue that might hold more narrative significance, it will be this one?

Tangentially Related Series

Finally, as with any event, there will be some books that are tied in less closely than others. Books like Hulk: Blood Hunt #1 and Strange Academy: Blood Hunt will, despite their inevitably high levels of craft and entertainment, be rather ancilliary to the overall narrative.

Similarly, the tie-in issues of Amazing Spider-Man along with the complimentary Amazing Spider-Man: Blood Hunt mini-series add to the central focus only in so much as they pin down what’s going on with Morbius.

Then you have issues like Venom #33-34, where Al Ewing will be working his usual magic to take an event tie-in, loosely connect his issues to its events and yet ultimately use it to facilitate greater impact on his own ongoing series. If you read the Dark Web tie-ins to the same series, then you know just how adept he is at using these otherwise distracting side quests to propel his stories with new momentum.

While none of these types of issues feel particularly necessary to the event as a whole, there is a lot of variety to them. The creative teams assembled for these issues are also generally stacked with talent, and for what it’s worth, it feels like its been a long time since Marvel’s given creators the chance to just run wild and have fun creating some solid, entertainment-focused tie-ins to big events.

So, the whole menu for Blood Hunt feels very exciting!

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