- Written by: Roy Thomas & R.J.M Lofficier
- Art by: Tom Morgan
- Colours by: Tom Vincent
- Letterer: Janice Chiang
- Editor: Craig Anderson
- Editor in Chief: Tom De Falco
Marvel Comics is famed for it’s incredible stories and gripping events throughout it’s history of publication, but in the late 1970’s they decided to come up with a series of stories known as “What If” stories, which imagined a key events from it’s years of stories, unfolding differently than it had previously done in their original continuity.
The first book released in this series was a simple “What If Spider-Man had joined the Fantastic Four?” but as the series continued into multiple volumes over the years some of the stories got more bizarre, such as the one I will be reviewing today which is from Volume 2 of the series, issue #24 titled “What If Wolverine was Lord of the Vampires?”
As with most of the ‘What If’ stories, the story begins with the character known as The Watcher, a being who watches over the many earths and timelines of Marvel Comics Universe. In this issue, he recalls the time when Wolverine and the X-Men faced off against none other than the Lord of Vampires, Count Dracula (Uncanny X-Men #159) in order to save their team-mate Storm. In the original story, Dracula did not drain enough of Storms blood to keep her under his control, but in this re-imagining of those events, he has, and so she does as he asks, defeating her former team that consists of Nightcrawler, Colossus and of course Wolverine.
Whilst Dracula can control mostly all of his thralls, it turns out Wolverine’s will is stronger than most, and with his new vampiric abilities, accompanied by his previous mutant abilities, Wolverine takes down Dracula to become the new Lord of the Vampires, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of mutant-kind or humanity.
Taking out the mutants first, along with any foes that pose a threat, Wolverine and his army of Mutant Vampires quickly spread the vampiric disease like a wild-fire and Wolverine has command of an entire vampiric army in no time. The only man who can stop them is the sorcerer known as Dr. Strange, but Wolverine is steps ahead of him and has a plan.
After dealing with Strange, Wolverine believes himself invincible now. His army of Mutant Vampires drain New York dry, not leaving any humans with the chance for vampiric resurrection, the mortal world falls into the hands of the Vampires, and their Lord.
Even the Super-Heroes and Super-Villains cannot stop the horde of Mutant Vampires, so this story seems truly bleak, until you realise that in order to save a story that feels hopeless, you need a hero that doesn’t portray hope.
If there is one human being left in the city that would give the vampires a real fight, it’s Frank Castle a.k.a The Punisher! Combine Punisher with the cape and guidance of the recently deceased Dr Strange, and you have a team up unlike any other on your hands. Strange tells Castle how to get rid of the Vampires, and so Frank’s latest mission begins.
Castle is faced with a horde of Mutant Vampires, but being the man he is, and having been in this situation with other vampires, he’s had time to prepare a few tricks of his own. In the end, it all comes down to Frank vs Logan, The Punisher versus Wolverine, but the only one who can truly save Wolverine and the others, is Wolverine.
The art in this book is very much as retro as the book itself when compared to the art style of the modern era of comics. The sketches use heavy pencil lines to bring out the finest of details in a characters face such as the wrinkles and hairs, but it also has a sense of realism to them which really makes it stand out from other comics.
This is the only What If book I have read and I have to say it is a delight to read such a compelling story that is almost full of hopelessness, because how can the world fight against Mutants especially those that have been granted the additional abilities of Vampirism.
The action, more towards the end when Frank is introduced, is well paced and thrilling to read. The ending also leaves more questions that could be answered but are left thus far unanswered, meaning that it leaves the future of this plot open to fan-theories, which is always fun.