Air raid sirens sound! All across the village, lights flicker out as residents huddle together in darkness, silently praying that this new volley of Nazi bombs misses their mark. But sometimes the darkness hides terrors worse than the explosions outside. Welcome to the realm of World War II vampire, Baron Blood.
Who is Baron Blood?
Baron Blood was introduced in Marvel’s Invaders comic. While the comic premiered in 1975, the series was set in World War II. It featured Marvel’s Golden Age heroes: Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, the original Human Torch, and their sidekicks Bucky and Toro. Invaders #7 introduced the group to Lord Montgomery Falsworth after saving his daughter from an attack. Falsworth then reveals that he was Union Jack, a British hero who fought in the first world war.
Union Jack’s arch-nemesis during the war was the vampire known as Baron Blood. With the attack on his daughter, Jacqueline, it seemed that the creature had returned to plague the Falsworth family.
All in the Family
We soon discover that Baron Blood is actually Lord Falsworth’s younger brother, John. Envy had muddled the brotherly waters though when lordship of the family estate fell to his older brother upon their father’s death. A jealous John set out to make his own fortune. His studies led him to Transylvania where he unearthed the Lord of Vampires, Count Dracula. Dracula quickly made John his undead servant and sent him to England to create havoc. John created a mask and costume to allow himself the double identity of a British noble and a horrific killer. To the dismay of England, Baron Blood was born! He prowled the streets of England during World War I, coming into conflict with Union Jack.
After the war, Baron Blood went into hiding. As the Nazis rose to power in Europe, he saw an opportunity to once again do his master’s bidding and start a new reign of terror. The Baron allowed Nazi scientists to try experimental treatments enabling him to temporarily endure the effects of sunlight, a bane to most vampires.
In classic gothic horror fashion, Baron Blood disguises himself as the son of long lost John Falsworth and is welcomed into the Falsworth’s English estate. The Invaders eventually discover his ruse. In the ensuing battle Baron Blood crushes Union Jack’s legs, crippling him. Union Jack manages to push the boulder from his legs onto the Baron, impaling him on a stalagmite and ending his threat (for now).
A Wartime Villain
The incomparable Roy Thomas wrote the Baron’s origin story arc. Thomas, known for his work on the early Avengers comics and for breathing life into Conan the Barbarian, is the ideal scribe for “The Invaders”. His research into the era, along with his ability as a storyteller, made the Invaders a great read. The early artist on this series was the late Frank Robbins. At the time I was not a big fan of Frank Robbins’ art. Looking back now, I have come to appreciate his ability to integrate comic book heroes into dark, gritty war scenes. Together, these master storytellers put a twist on the classic vampire tale and created a villain capable of creating terror in the dark recesses of an old castle, while still being a worthy foe for World War II’s greatest team.
While Baron Blood returned several times through the years (as vampires tend to do), I believe Marvel could do so much with him in World War II (or even World War I) era. The success of superhero war movies like Captain America and Wonder Woman opens the door for another look at this dark time. What villain could be a better foil than the nefarious Baron Blood?! Currently the MCU has chosen Morbius to represent their superhero horror genre. But the right creative team could turn Baron Blood into the preeminent World War II villain both in comics and on the big screen. What do you think… does the Almost Infamous Baron Blood have a future in the Marvel Universe?