Monday, October 06, 2008

What if... Wolverine had become the Lord of Vampires? (Marvel)
Where: What if...? #24 When: April 1991
Why: Roy Thomas/RJM Lofficier How: Tom Morgan

The Tape...
Strength: Dracula 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Dracula 5 (Professor)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Dracula 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Wolverine 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Wolverine 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Dracula 4 (Arsenal)

Math: Dracula Ranking: Wolverine (#6)

The Fix...
I'm sensing a bit of a vampire night in this year's October!
I really couldn't tell you why. Actually, we'll probably have to force ourselves to find the time to talk about the newest instalment of Marvel Zombies, which is actually not without it's charms, but for the time being, more Dracula!
[In case you missed it, track back to Uncanny X-Men Annual #6!]

This isn't the first time we've taken a look at the events of this particular alternate universe!

Previously we flashed forward to observe the events of Wolverine's last stand as Lord of Vampires, before a final act of nobility put an end to his reign, and completed Dr. Strange and Frank Castle's mission to rid their alternate world of it's plague of death [Punisher versus X-Men].

This time around we're going back to where it all began: the results of the first deviation that shaped this universes grim destiny. It takes place after the events of X-Men #159; where, in our universe, the X-Men met Dracula for the first time, and successfully escaped his embrace all due to the cast iron will of Storm.

For us, the wind-rider was able to resist Dracula's influence, thanks to the affections of Kitty Pryde, and rescued her teammates. In this reality, however, Storm betrayed the X-Men, and left them to Dracula's accursed fangs.

It was his intention to return three nights later to raise Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Wolverine, from their graves - his to manipulate as vampiric slaves. He did not, however, anticipate the indomitable will of the Wolverine.

The eighties, from which this story derives it's origins, were a different place.
As we countdown toward next year's Wolverine film we can appreciate that twenty-five years ago the character's popularity had not yet reached the market saturation that we recognise today. The X-Franchise was right on the verge of evolving into a brand, but 1982, Wolverine was just the bad ass mystery man with a killer instinct, and a set of six adamantium claws!

The modern era of comics has grown with a self-consciousness afforded by it's decades of history. From the beginnings of the modern age in the sixties, the medium had the benefit of a greater attention to detail and consistency.
Alterations in the fabric of established characters are typically minor, but even Wolverine has endured subtle variations of what defines him as a superhero.

In facilitating the fandom that grew around the character; Marvel's need to maintain Wolverine, and establish his presence on a grand scale, drafted new details into his backstory and profile. As his history grew in complexity, the nature of his power became greater, to a point where Wolverine's healing abilities have taken on an almost sentient logic. The healing factor accounts not only for his survival through many lethal injuries, but also decades without age.

It's a question debated previously on the Infinite Wars, but we can't help but arrive once more at the same question: can Wolverine even become a vampire?

In What If...? #24 Wolverine certainly does return from apparent death, and while his transformation is unseen, it's quite possible the healing factor contributed to what follows...

Three nights after they perished beneath Dracula's fangs -- Nightcrawler and Colossus are risen from the grave by the vampire lord. Absent, however, is Wolverine, who instead walks freely from the darkness of the wood where the X-Men suffered their defeat.

Dracula recognises that, like he, Wolverine possesses a will inherently strong enough to resist the mental powers of the vampire, and challenge him for the mystic superiority of Lord of Vampires. The reigning Lord gladly answers Wolverine's artful challenge, leaping unsuspectingly toward a warrior who has already mastered the transformation of a wolf!

Dracula turns from man to bat in an instant, but his new form does little to quell the aggression of Wolverine. As a wolf he leaps atop the humanoid-bat and rips at his throat. The wound remains as Dracula returns to a humanoid form. Wounded, bleeding violently from the throat, Dracula accepts his fate!

With a cold, sinister intent that came with his vampirism, Wolverine unsheathes his adamantium claws and slices Dracula's head clean from his neck -- thus ensuring the permanent death and transference of powers from the former Lord of Vampires.

Here on the Infinite Wars we do things a little different to most sites.
Sure, we're no stranger to the land of speculation [fantasy fights], but for the most part we specialize in observing and recounting battles that actually happened. In this respect, there's a simple answer to our earlier question: yes. Wolverine can - and in this world, did - become a vampire! In the conclusion of the battle, however, we may find unspoken answers that satisfy our curiosity.

Modern cinema has done a lot to progress the mythology of vampirism (and zombification). Films like Blade and Resident Evil do a lot to retool and ground these mythic concepts in a logic that better satisfies the utilitarian logic of modern audiences. Scientific concepts give vampirism a viral basis - recasting this once mystic practise with a biological etymology.

It's hard to fault this beautiful symbiosis of science and fiction.
Like so many great concepts it builds on comparable logics many of us a familiar with, giving the nature of the threat a specific set of rules to exist within. It firmly estalishes the drama of vampirism (or zombification) and carries that weight of logic throughout an entire project.

We cannot, however, forget those many different mythological accounts.
The Lord of Vampires mantle does not bare any specific logic that's easily compared to symptoms of a biogenetic plague. It is in it's essence - magic.

We often find ourselves returning to the subject of Superman and his weaknesses and vulnerabilities. On the Infinite Wars we have the unwavering perception that the conceptual construction of Superman and his abilities rely on their interaction with established parameters that define human ability. Superman exceeds them, ergo he is super-strong, super-fast, super-durable, and so on.
Magic, on the other hand, is that which typically does not comply with conventional science. It exists in fiction defined conceptually as a system that defies and breaks basic universal principles - a contrast to Superman's logic.

This is why Superman is vulnerable to magic - and why Wolverine is likely the same. His healing factor is based on pseudo-science that assumes wounds and ailments, no matter how severe, can be healed.
It's reasonable to assume incantations, or mystic transferences, that defy or exist outside these rules, cannot be healed because they don't cause harm. Mystic vampirism requires mystic solutions - ie; the Montesi Formula.

Food for thought this Halloween, true believers.

Winner: Wolverine
The Fight: 4 The Issue: 6

Unfortunately, to the best of our knowledge, this issue has not yet been collected in trade paperback format. You'll find plenty of other great reads to buy in the Amazonian Gift Shoppe, however, which is a great way to support the site. Most collections featuring issues reviewed in the Secret Archives are available, at reasonable prices!

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