Doctor Strange, Blade and Marvel Terror
With the big Marvel Phase 4 (and 5) announcements that came out of Comic-Con International, as well as a recent interview that Deadline had with Marvel’s Jeph Loeb, it seems as though we are about to see some of the horror side of Marvel. Pre-dating Marvel Comics, Atlas Comics was home to many horror titles including Journey Into Mystery (the birthplace of Thor) and Strange Tales (the birthplace of Doctor Strange). As Atlas transitioned into Marvel that tradition of horror comics continued.
With the foundation of the Comics Code Authority in 1954, many of the mainstays of horror transitioned into sci-fi books, but the roots of horror were still there. In the ’70s when the rules of the Comics Code were relaxed Marvel went back to those roots launching titles like Tomb of Dracula, Man-Thing, and Ghost Rider. By the ’80s horror books had waned in popularity, only to make another resurgence in the ’90s with the Rise of the Midnight Sons. Now Marvel TV and movies will harvest that past (and to a lesser extent present) to bring a new battery of characters to the screen.
In the big announcements from Comic-Con International, we found out about the latest installment of the Doctor Strange films: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Directed by Scott Derrikson the movie is being billed as the first “scary” movie from the MCU. Which would be in keeping with the long-standing tradition in the comics that Strange is just that, strange. As the lynchpin of the dark and creepy side of the Marvel Universe. Doctor Strange has always had close connections with the more sinister elements. Frequent connections and crossovers with the likes of the Nightstalkers (who include the next subject of this article, Blade) and the Spirits of Vengeance (both John Blaze and Danny Ketch). This is a good jumping-off point for the direction that the MCU looks to be taking.
In another big announcement from Comic-Con International, we found out that the first casting for Marvel Phase 5 is Mahershala Ali as Blade. The half-vampire popularized by the actor Wesley Snipes in the 1998 film Blade, has actually been a staple of the Marvel Universe since 1973. In battles against Dracula, Hannibal King, Morbius and basically any vampire that got in his way, Blade has been kicking ass through the dark corners of Marvel for decades. Eventually teaming up with Hannibal King and Frank Drake to form The Nightstalkers in the ’90s. As part of the Midnight Sons saga in the ’90’s the Nightstalkers, along with Morbius and the Darkhold searchers began to reopen the dark universe in Marvel. It created a long series of interconnected titles that will give the MCU a lot to work from, including plots for upcoming Hellstrom and Ghost Rider television shows.
In an interview with Deadline, Jeph Loeb talked about some upcoming television that they have coined Adventure Into Fear a reference to one of the many horror titles that Marvel was releasing in the ’70s. With the first 9 issues being reprints of horror comics from the ’50s. Issue 10 began to feature characters like Morbius and Man-Thing, while also being adjacent to Helstrom and Ghost Rider. The two specific characters Loeb mentioned:
That they’re getting this brand that’s known throughout the world. It’s just a different kind of strategizing, which is what’s the best way that we can tell the world that Marvel adult animation is on Hulu, for example.
We were talking to them, and they started scratching because when you look at the success that they’ve had with Castle Rock and the world of terror. Something that really interested us and interested them, and we always knew that we were going to do something with Ghost Rider, we were just waiting for the right place to put it.
Jeph Loeb to Deadline
Then we started having the same conversation, which was there is in the comic book world the Spirit of Vengeance, and they are this sort of unusual group of characters, which involve Ghost Rider, which involve Helstrom, which involve Helstrom’s sister, Anna. We suddenly saw that there were three or four shows that we could put together that we now refer to as Adventure into Fear.
This creates a very exciting place for fans of Marvel’s horror side. With the introduction of The Eternals to Phase 4 and the direction that Doctor Strange, Blade and Adventures Into Fear could take us, there is room for a lot of great characters to his the screen. Everything from Dracula and Mephisto to Morbius and John Blaze, the world of Marvel Horror is now wide open!