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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

There are worse things out there than vampires.

Half vampire, half human, the tortured soul known only as Blade came into the world an orphan. His mother, bitten by the vampire Blade Deacon Frost while she was pregnant, died during childbirth. Due to the circumstances of his birth, Blade's body has undergone certain genetic mutations. He possesses a vampire's superhuman strength and accelerated healing factor. Fueled by a constant craving for vengeance against the creatures that tainted his humanity and murdered his mother, Blade fashioned himself into a vampire hunter.

Marvel Comics has always done a better job of adapting social trends than DC. Blade, for instance, grew out of the '70s blaxploitation films - the strong black hero who looked out for his own. Debuting two years after the original Shaft hit theatres, Blade the Vampire Slayer led a team of whiteys after Dracula, the biggest bad of them all.

Though he'd been roped into some pretty lame stories in the mid-'90s, Blade was rescued from obscurity by Stephen Norrington by the end of the decade, turning into an unexpected movie star and kicking off the string of eight hit movies based on Marvel characters.

There was a Blade figure made in the long-lived 1990s Spider-Man line, and he had a four-figure set to go with his first movie. That film-based line was, in a way, the grand-daddy of Marvel Legends, so it just seems suiting that Blade's come home to roost.

Standing just over 6" tall, Blade is just a little taller than his fan-favorite ancestor. He's also got the edge in articulation, moving at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, forearms, wrists, hands, right index finger, torso, waist, hips, knees, shins, ankles and feet, bringing 18 more points of articulation than Trenchcoat Blade. The right ankle's range of motion isn't very good, and the waist is unnecessary (since the torso joint takes care of it).

Rather than just a re-used, re-tooled sculpt, Legends Blade is 100% new from head to toe. The likeness isn't as good as the old figure's, but you can still tell that this is supposed to be Wesley Snipes: he's got that goofy haircut and the tattoos on the back of his neck, and will look great standing next to ML3's movie Daredevil and the announced movie Punisher that's due in ML6 - hell, with all of your Marvel movie figures. Just don't put him near your movie Storm, or he'll beat her so hard she goes deaf. He's wearing the updated body armor from the second film, and has a set of silver spikes strapped to his left thigh.

While the sculpt is new, the accessories are not; Blade comes with his sword, glaive and handgun, and all three are just as exaggerated as they were before. However, since his hands are in proportion to the rest of his body, the weapons don't really fit too well: he can't hold his gun and the glaive just looks awkward. The sword can be holstered on his back.

Blade is wearing a cloth trenchcoat, just like the old figure. The material used for this version is thinner and shinier, so it looks and hangs more like a real coat than the previous attempt. The coat can be removed easily, and there's a slit between the shoulders to allow the sword to poke through.

Like the rest of the Marvel Legends, Blade comes with a detailed base. His is a nice re-creation of the motorcycle used in the second film. It's got the angular sheet metal chassis, the solid-spoke tires and dual exhausts. Just a bit undersized, the bike still looks great and fits the figure well. Maybe he can have a race against Ghost Rider.

Blade comes with either a reproduction comic or a Blade 2 poster book. Not extremely impressive, the poster book is probably a good choice, because Blade doesn't have a lot of good comic stories and his last few series have downright sucked. The reprint was originally Tomb of Dracula #45, which saw our hero trying to kill Deacon Frost, who's much different here than he was in the film.

-- 05/07/04

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