The Gold Standard – Blood Sucking Freaks

I like vampires. I do. Especially when they’re creepy and evil, I mean, Nosferatu or 30 Days of Night. I loved Bela Lugosi as Dracula, and I even liked Tom Cruise’s Interview With A Vampire. Ever seen Mel Brooks’s Dracula: Dead And Loving it?You haven’t? SEE IT! It might be a comedy, but it gets down the gist of what a Vamp should act like. Hell, Buffy and Angel and are two of my favorite shows. I just simply love vampires.

Despite my strong distaste for Twilight I actually saw the silver lining to it, that Vamps were being made popular again. How could it possibly be a bad thing that Vamps are getting recognition?

Well, because they’re getting it for being hot, sparkly, not evil, and for being romance characters.

I’m sorry, but where are my blood sucking freaks? Where are the soulless mockeries of life that feed on the weak? Where’s the damn horror?

Marvel has been trying to push a bit through in their books lately, between Mark Millar’s Ultimate Avengers 3 and Victor Gischler’s X-Men vs Vampires, but does either really stand out? I mean, and Mark Millar has said as much while pissed off, both are essentially telling the same story. Super Powered Vampires, I mean, yes, one is X-Men and one is Avengers, but again, SPV’s.

I think the part that bugs me the most about it though is that while Millar can do whatever he wants over in Ultimates, nobody is expecting the changes in X-Men to lost. I mean, Vampire Wolverine? That’s fine and dandy, except for that in his new ongoing he’s going to hell, he’s on two teams of Avengers, Scott’s Alpha Team in Uncanny, and he’s the co-leader of X-Force. In other words? Wolverine isn’t staying a vampire for longer than an issue or two, and that fact alone cheapens the occurrence of the event. Jubilee might stay all blood suckery, but at the same time, Jubilee hasn’t managed to stay out of limbo for more than a few months at a time since Generation X was canned.

But then again, does anybody care if Jubilee is a vampire? Did anyone care when she lost her powers? Did anyone care when she was on the aborted New Warriors relaunch? She’s seriously only relevant for fans of the nineties X-Men cartoon where she filled the Kitty Pryde role, but even as a fan of that show, I’ve never been able to tolerate her outside of the pages of Generation X. And you know who’s better at filling the Kitty Pryde role? Kitty Pryde. She was practically made to fill that spot.

So what’s the long term potential of any of this? Vampires are being pushed down the throats of people in just about every entertainment medium thanks to the tweenage crap known as Twilight, but how long will that last? The book series is over from what I’ve heard, and it’s to the point where they’re splitting the last book into two movies in hopes that another book is written in the meantime to keep the franchise going. When Twilight is over, how much popularity will vamps retain? My guess is that they’ll slip back to where they were before, in that there are definite fans, but that you won’t have twelve year old girls by the thousand thinking they’re the most awesome thing ever. In other words, they’ll probably fall back into zombie territory.

And hey, at least Super Powered Zombies led us to the original Marvel Zombies miniseries of awesome, but even that eventually sort of tapered off into the land of cash in minis. I mean, I read the first two minis, and the Army of Darkness vs Marvel Zombies crossover, but come Marvel Zombies 3 I was done. It had just lost the fun little appeal that it had by turning into a franchise all its own, and like, that could totally work if not for the fact that the first two could easily have been self contained, and that the second two just brought Deadpool into the mix. That in turn led us to Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth where Wade teamed up with the head of his other universe zombie self….written by Victor Gischler.

Which I guess takes me back full circle, since he’s writing X-Men vs Vampires.

Monster movies are awesome, and the usage of them in comics can totally work, they just can’t be treated like…well, like they’re being treated. Sure, the vampires are being used as a big threat, but just by the nature of the titles they’re being used in you can see that they have the long term potential of…I’ll get back to that.

It’s like I said earlier, Wolverine is a vampire now, but only in this one title. In this one story arc. How are we, as readers, supposed to buy into the importance of this story and the lasting ramifications if we know that nobody aside from Jubilee is getting turned into a vampire? Wait, no, I take that back, nobody with name value aside from Jubilee is getting turned into a vampire for longer than this story arc. This is a problem for me, more so than the writing really feeling like it’s being geared at the current “Vampires are cool” crowd to draw in new readers, because they’re essentially walking into the holy grail of all horror movie monsters and hyping them up, only to quietly acknowledge that it doesn’t matter at all.

Wolverine is in hell, remember? And an Avenger? And leading X-Force which hasn’t relaunched yet? I’ve said this before, right?

Namor is the one book running right now that I can actually foresee the vampire plot running in past it’s conclusion in X-Men, and that’s just because the book was launched right into the mix of it….and I don’t see the title lasting for too long. Not due to low sales or it being a bad book, if I’m correct it actually sold pretty well, and I enjoyed reading it. No, I just figure that Namor is going to get shuffled into some other status quo sooner than later, one splitting him from the X-Men, and he’s going to wind up back in that private room he has set aside for himself in character limbo. I’d rather not see that happen, and I beg Marvel to not let it happen, but it’s just what my gut is telling me.

Frankencastle is an example of a horror monster being integrated well into the Marvel Universe, I mean, I still wave a WTF flag about it, but it was a fun story. One with a very finite life span, but a fun story regardless. Remender found a way to tell an original Punisher story as well as feature the monsters of the Marvel Universe who may not always get much page time, and all it took was turning Frank into a Frankenstein for a little while. He even made the entire thing spin out of a really cool Punisher story in the Dark Reign issues, and even got Daken some badass credit that the whiny little daddys boy was in major need of.

But the point is vampires, and I’m going to keep going back to that. This is hardly the first time the X-Men have faced off with the undead, and in the most recent issue they pay notice to it. Back in the 80’s the X-Men fought Dracula and he actually bit Storm. She fought it off and returned to normal, but there was actual suspense in the story. There was only one book that she was appearing in, only one writer had her in their sandbox. Anything could happen and readers knew it, after all, Dark Phoenix was just a few years prior. I wasn’t even alive yet, but I can just imagine what it must have been like to see that as a cliffhanger. Actually, my first experience with Storm as a vampire was during a book called Mutant X where Havok wound up in an alternate reality, and one of the changes was that she remained a vampire. Bloodstorm was a pretty awesome character who had sired quite a few name brand characters such as Kitty Pryde and Gambit. Fun book, had nothing to do with the TV show, and it isn’t in trade. If you ever find copies of the single issues, scope them out.

So what’s the point? Don’t use vampires? Not at all. If you look back a few months I actually reviewed Gischler’s Death of Dracula one shot, and I enjoyed it greatly. He gave the various sects of vampires depth and built up an interest in me for what he could do with them. That’s probably why X-Men vs Vampires bothers me so much, because it makes that awesome one shot feel like a prelude to a mini event that won’t matter once it’s over. Did I expect it to launch a new Marvel Vampires ongoing? No, I didn’t, but I just figured that maybe they were setting up more than just X-Men vs Vampires. And then they revealed in X-Men that the master plan is to use Vampire Wolverine to turn the other X-Men and make all mutants into vampires.

The weirdest part about all of this is that for as much complaining as I have to do about my perceived outcome, I’m still reading the book. It’s not horrible either, it’s been groan worthy at times, but Gischler is a pretty capable writer, and I might just have to check out Merc With A Mouth because of it. I guess my real problem is the one I’ve had for the past few years.

Vampires are a fad because of Twilight, and while I understand that I’m in no way, shape, or form the target demographic, it bothers me that this is what is being perceived as the best way to do vampires. What is it going to lead to once the Twilight series wraps up, which it surely will in the next few years? The same thing any other fad in the theaters does, a bunch of half assed knock offs that dilute the market to the point where nobody cares anymore because for every decent one there are around a dozen unwatchable ones. Like the spoof and parody movies, of which there have been so many in recent years that most viewers just expect the movie to blow horribly and don’t even bother. I watched Extreme Movie a few weeks ago and laughed my ass off, and this was after three months of avoiding it when I saw it OnDemand. Why? More so the concept of it spoofing teen sex comedies than it starring Michael Cera and Frankie Muniz, what does that tell you?

I want Vampires, not Vampires Suck, just like I want Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood, and not Disaster Movie.

So when I hear about Vampire Wolverine, I obviously just want to know going in that it’s not an over and done in three issues sort of deal, because that just cheapens the story.

Enough ranting for today.

The Gold Standard

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