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by yo go re

After starting his own toy company, Todd McFarlane wasted no time in sharing his good fortune with his fellow Image creators. Rob Liefeld's Youngblood characters got figures as early as Spawn Series 2, and Whilce Portacio's Wetworks got its own two-series line in 1995.

Vampires, figures of horror and legend, do indeed stalk the night. Victims of ancient catastrophe that they brought upon themselves, the Vampires now live in underground cities, biding their time and awaiting the call to arms - the night when they will swarm forth and seize the world that is rightfully theirs!

The least memorable of the initial Image books, Wetworks was the story of a military team that acquired symbiotic golden armor and used it to fight the secret vampire clan that was trying to take over the world. Yeah, it sounds ridiculous, but considering that Portacio was coming off X-Factor, that makes his book one of the few creative ones. It also managed to get 44 issues out in four years, which makes it one of the few reliable books from the early Image days. It may never have been as famous as Witchblade or Savage Dragon, but it was more than just some tiny flash in the pan.

Whilce's take on vampires is less "Dracula" and more "Nosferatu" - the head, in particular, is not human at all, rather being a large, anthropomorphic bat, complete with tremendous pointed ears and a little smout. The mouth is open to show his fangs, and there's a giant nest of black hair (rooted, not sculpted) spilling off his scalp and down past his waist.

The body has weird proportions, even beyond what could be attributed to the Image Comics artstyle. There's a very broad chest and ribs, a narrow waist and hips, scrawny legs and drastically long arms that end in massive hands with claws as long as the fingers themselves. Eric Treadaway's sculpt gives the grey skin a texture that makes it look dry and aged, though there are bulging veins all along the arms. He wears a red loincloth, ripped maroon pants, and has technological wristbands and boots.

The boots, by the way, have removable sides, so you can show the mechanical parts inside. As for why a vampire is wearing boots with mechanical parts in the first place, well... we can't help you there. Theoretically, it's something from the comics, but if there's any reasoning behind it beyond "wow, robot shoes would be neat!", well, you'd have to ask someone who read the book.

The Vampire is a McFarlane toy, so the articulation is poor. He has a swivel neck, swivel shoulders, swivel wrists, T-crotch, and hinged knees.

The toy gets two accessories: a ridiculous technological spear with a red string wire sculpted around it, and a red "control visor" that fits over his forehead. I got this vampire secondhand, so his visor was missing (along with two fingernails on his left hand, for some reason), but it's not something that will be missed. Neither would the spear, honestly. It's made from a very soft PVC and gets bent and warped out of shape far too easily.

Wetworks never reached the heights that the other Image books did, but it does have at least one surprising advantage over the rest of them: since Wetworks was part of Jim Lee's "WildStorm" imprint, it went with all those properties when DC bought him out; that's how one of the Wetworks characters, Pilgrim, ended up being adapted for live-action on Legends of Tomorrow. She didn't have the symbiotic armor, and her backstory was completely different, but it was her. A version of her. Unexpected! Todd made toys of the comic's human characters, but the only thing really interesting about them is the gold skin; the vampire, at least, is a weird-looking monster.

-- 10/25/18

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