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Marvel reveals why Blade turned on the Avengers and became the company's big villain of the year

Spoilers for Blood Hunt, and a big explanation for why Blade is acting so out of character this summer

Blood Hunt #4
Image credit: Pepe Larraz/Marvel

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If the big bad of Marvel’s summer 2024 event Blood Hunt seemed a little unexpected to you — and if you wondered just what would make Blade turn against his fellow Avengers and lead a vampire invasion of the Earth that sees him betraying everything he once held dear, the fourth issue of the main Blood Hunt book has the answers you’re looking for.

Be warned: Spoilers follow for Blood Hunt #4 and the entire event! Don’t read further unless you want to know everything. We mean it!

The reason Blade isn’t acting like himself is, it turns out, because he’s not actually Blade. Or, rather, he is, physically, but Blade’s body has been possessed by an old villain making a very unexpected return.

Early in the issue, ‘Blade’ confesses the truth to the enthralled Black Panther: “Thousands upon thousands of years ago, what was begun with a crime against the universe will see completion, here and now. When I was born for a second time in a stone sarcophagus, drowned in blood,” he explains. When asked what he is, he replies, “The first vampire, my nomad spirit clothed in my fated vessel, the Daywalker’s skin. I am Varnae.”

Wait… who?

Varnae is, to be fair, a pretty obscure villain who’s only made a handful of appearances in Marvel comic book continuity — before Blood Hunt, he hadn’t appeared since November 2004’s Tomb of Dracula #2, and before that brief appearance, it would be a decade before that that anyone had seen him, in 1994’s Blade the Vampire Hunter #5. He is, in fact, so obscure that the majority of his appearances before Blood Hunt aren’t even available on Marvel’s digital subscription service Marvel Unlimited, although that might change now that the reveal is out there. Or perhaps that’s part of his own master plan, to cover his tracks and ensure that no-one could suspect him…!

Well, almost no-one; as Blood Hunt #4 reveals, Doctor Doom has worked out what’s going on, and made plans to fix the situation, leading into the finale of the issue and the eventual triumph of the good guys in the next (and final) issue of the series. Maybe he’s been reading the tie-in issues to the big event, as Black Panther: Blood Hunt #2, released last week, was the first comic to even mention Varnae in years, in preparation of the big reveal.

Of course, just because the heroes know who they’re facing in the final showdown doesn’t necessarily mean they know just how it’s going to go down. Marvel has already announced a new Blade: Red Band miniseries will launch in October, so we know the character will survive his possession, but in what shape…? And what will become of Varnae before then?

For that, we’ll have to wait until July 31 to pick up Blood Hunt #5 and find out for ourselves.

Keep up to date on Popverse's Marvel coverage, with these highlights: Disney CEO Bob Iger is promising Deadpool & Wolverine will be MCU's biggest movie "in a long time", how Marvel Studios is now working "much more closely" to sell Marvel comics, how Marvel Comics' boss said it was lost in 2023 (and how its finding itself again), Inside Marvel Comics' plans to fix its pricing issues, Overgrown children of the atom: Marvel's X-Men can't evolve past their '90s commercial peak, and the biggest outstanding questions of the Marvel Studios' movies & TV shows.

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Graeme McMillan: Popverse Editor Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.
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