With the arrival of October, the best time of the year is finally upon us. As media worldwide shifts gears to spookier, scarier media, comics will prove to be no exception. Horror comics are where the medium got its start, building as an institution on the backs of stories about zombies, murders, monsters and, naturally, vampires. Vampires have been a regular part of comics for years, especially in the 1970s with the advent of stories and characters such as Blade the Vampire-Slayer and I...Vampire. And with the classic character Dracula in the public domain, many heroes have fought against the greatest vampire ever himself over the years.
Much of the appeal of seeing your favorite heroes fight vampires is seeing how they handle the vampire’s bite. Through the use of gimmicks, alternate universes, and possible futures, many of your favorite heroes have been bitten by vampires over the years. Some have turned into loyal vampire servants, others have fought off the bite through their natural abilities, and some have even risen through the ranks to rule over vampires themselves. With that in mind, here are 15 characters that you may have forgotten had succumbed to the vampire’s bite.
There is perhaps no more famous vampire in comics than when the Dark Knight himself was bitten. Spanning a trilogy of stories, the so-called “Batman & Dracula” trilogy of Elseworlds tales have an odd oxymoron of a title. Dracula only turns up in the original story, Batman & Dracula: Red Rain.
Released in 1991 by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones, Red Rain saw Batman slowly losing his humanity until story’s end, where his blood is drained and he becomes a full-on vampire. The series was so popular, it spawned two sequels, 1994’s Bloodstorm, where the vampiric Batman attempted to rid Gotham of all crime, and 1999’s Crimson Mist, where the insane Batman fought against his usual allies, Jim Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth. This iteration of Batman remains a fan favorite, cropping up from time to time in both stories and action figures.
Following the brief cancellation of Uncanny X-Men, the relaunched, adjective-less X-Men title started off with one hell of a wild ride. The son of Dracula arrived in California and wildly outnumbered the X-Men, even turning Jubilee into a vampire. Wolverine set out to find Jubilee but found himself bitten and turned.
This created some pretty terrifying moments for the X-Men, as a vampire servant Wolverine would prove to be pretty damn resilient. But when Wolverine arrived to lead the charge on behalf of the vampires, it was revealed to be part of a plan secretly hatched by Cyclops, who had dulled Wolverine’s healing factor. Restoring his healing factor to full strength fought off the vampire infection, allowing Wolverine to lead the team to the vampire stronghold and save the day.
Maybe this one’s cheating, but it’s worth mentioning. With General Zod looming as a threat in the distance, Clark, Lois, and Jimmy find themselves interviewing a European count, Count Romanoff. Naturally, he turns out to be Dracula, with the ultimate goal being to enthral Superman, turn him into a vampire and use him to lead a vampire army against General Zod.
To his credit, Dracula almost succeeds. Mentally controlling Lois and straining their relationship, he finally manages to enthral Superman and get close enough to take a huge bite out of the Man of Steel’s neck. Of course, it doesn’t work well, as a living solar battery, Superman’s blood turns out to be fatal for the Count, killing him. Could Superman ever be turned into a vampire? We’ll get to that one in a moment.
12 DICK GRAYSON
Tying into the Countdown to Final Crisis event, The Hunt For Ray Palmer one-shots saw Jason Todd, Donna Troy, and Kyle Rayner scour the multiverse for the missing Atom. One such issue, Red Rain, saw them travel to a world where Dick Grayson had become a vampire hunter in a Gotham haunted by a vampiric Batman.
The story takes a dark look at the world of Red Rain, hearkening back to the classic original stories, but ends on a dark note. Dick, having already staked Barbara Gordon, sets out to also put down Batman and save Gotham. Despite Jason Todd’s best intentions, Dick succumbs to the Batman’s bite. The story ends on a bittersweet note, as Jason is forced to flee the world as a dark reflection of Batman and Robin patrols the skies of Gotham.
Bloodstorm, the sequel to the critically acclaimed Red Rain, saw a vampire version of Batman patrolling Gotham City in an effort to rid the city of the remaining vampires. However, after the fall of Dracula, the vampires found themselves united under a surprising new leader: The Joker. In the midst of this, Batman’s long-time flame Selina Kyle found herself attacked by one of the vampires.
Surprisingly, the vampire’s bite didn’t necessarily give Selina vampire abilities. Instead, she gained an odd Were-Cat form. With vampiric fangs but covered in a purple fur and having a pair of large, clawed hands, the Cat-Woman didn’t have the craving for blood because she wasn’t completely drained of her own. She gave her life to save Batman by the end of Bloodstorm, a sacrifice that would highlight Batman’s own ailing humanity in the follow-up, Crimson Mist.
10 CAPTAIN AMERICA
It’s easy to forget today, but Exiles was incredibly well-received when it first released. Comprised largely of X-Men B-characters who had been pulled from the moment before their death, the team of dimension-hopping misfits would eventually find themselves on Earth-3931, which featured a team of vamped out Avengers led by the living legend himself, Captain America.
Having been bitten by Baron Blood, Captain America was turned into a vampire and turned the other Avengers as well, creating a team of Vampire Avengers who wreaked havoc throughout the world. The Exiles team would do battle with the Vampire Avengers and that universe’s Union Jack, eventually managing to win out over the vampires in a battle that led to their destruction at the hands of Sunfire and the salvation of Earth-3931.
9 NERD HULK
Ultimate Comics Avengers 3 dropped in 2011 and featured the return of the Ultimate Comics iteration of Blade in a shocking vampire story the likes of which the Ultimate Universe had never seen. The story kicked off with the reveal that the intelligent clone of Bruce Banner, mockingly dubbed Nerd Hulk in-story, had been bitten by vampires and turned.
The story saw Nerd Hulk joining a team of vampires led by a former vampire hunter, Anthony, but it wasn’t enough. Slowly growing angrier after being dismissed by both the Avengers and the squad of vampires, Nerd Hulk killed Anthony and took over as leader of the vampire swarm before launching an attack on his old Avengers teammates that very nearly succeeds, including turning Captain America.
One of the bigger selling points of Ultimate Comics Avengers 3 was the introduction of a new Daredevil. With the Ultimate version of Matt Murdock dying in the Ultimatum event, Stick found a new protege in Raymond Connor, a young boy who had suffered an accident similar to Murdock’s. Raymond was recruited by Stick to replace the fallen Murdock in his never-ending war against vampires.
Yeah, vampires. In the Ultimate Universe, there’s an underground, supernatural war that Stick is dedicated to, instead of fighting The Hand. Raymond’s stint as the new Daredevil was short-lived, though, as both he and Stick were turned by Nerd Hulk at the behest of Anthony, and proved formidable vampires. However, all the vampires died when Captain America used Perun’s hammer to send the Triskelion to Iran, burning the vampires up in the midday sun.
Final Crisis got a lot of weird tie-ins, but chief among them may be Final Crisis: Superman Beyond. Assembled from throughout the Multiverse, a team of Supermen are recruited to take down Mordrakk, an evil Monitor who had become a Vampire Lord. The battle ultimately culminated in a strained union between the Superman of our world and Ultraman of the anti-matter universe.
Though the Mordrakk featured here, Dax Novu was defeated, it wasn’t the end. Another Monitor, Rox Ogama, took on the role of Mordrakk and converted Ultraman into his own personal vampire warrior. The two participated in the large-scale attack in Final Crisis, but ultimately fell to the combined force of a returning Monitor, Nix Uotan, the remaining Supermen of the Multiverse and a comically large stake from the Green Lantern Corps.
6 THE WONDER TWINS
Can you turn Superman into a vampire? Historically speaking, it’s a bit of a grey area. Superman, being weak to magic, could easily succumb to a vampire’s bite, but the solar radiation in his body tends to make him immune to much of a bite. An episode of 1978’s Superfriends managed to skirt the issue, with a kid-friendly interpretation of Dracula.
“Attack of the Vampire” saw Dracula rise from a slumber and turn most of the population into vampires using his “bite,” which is really just a mix of a mysterious powder or nebulous eye beams. Eventually, he managed to turn Superman and the Wonder Twins into vampires as well, but the world was saved by a unique cave gas Batman and Robin obtained that cured the vampire infection.
5 THE X-MEN
The Uncanny X-Men #159 is a modern classic, pitting the team against Dracula and kickstarting a long history of Marvel’s Merry Mutants taking on the Vampire Lord. But 1991’s What If…? #24 proposed a different take on the classic story: What If Wolverine had become the Vampire Lord?
Failing to slay Dracula, Wolverine is instead turned into a vampire but maintains his stubborn nature. Deciding the title sounds good, Wolverine quickly masters his new vampire abilities and slays Dracula. Wolverine then takes over much of the world and turns his fellow X-Men into vampire servants. In a knock-down, drag-out battle with The Punisher, though, Wolverine regains his sense of morality and casts a spell with help from Dr. Strange to destroy all the vampires on Earth, including himself.
4 THE JOKER
Releasing in 2015, Convergence marked the beginning of the end for DC’s “New 52” branding, though no one realized it at the time. With heroes from throughout the long publication history of DC Comics brought together, a number of exciting crossovers happened for the first time. One such Convergence mini-series, Wonder Woman, brought back characters from Red Rain.
Diana found herself facing a vampiric Joker, who had turned Poison Ivy and Selina Kyle under his thrall. Diana, only having recently regained her powers, found herself at odds with the vampire army. In the process, Steve Trevor and Etta Candy were both lost, turned into vampires under his thrall. The story ends with Diana staking Joker in a pyrrhic victory, though this version of Diana was lost to time again at the end of Convergence.
Preceding Convergence was Futures End, a weekly event tying into the future of the universe established in "The New 52." As part of the event, every ongoing series received a Futures End one-shot, and Batwoman’s featured a callback to the classic Red Rain with Kate Kane turned into a vampire at some point. Filled with an insatiable bloodlust, Kate stalks the skies of Gotham and feeds nightly.
The unlikely team of Kate’s sister Red Alice, Ragman, Clayface and Etrigan has come together to stop Kate, Alice having been seeking redemption for her own sordid past alongside her sister. Unable to resist her vampire side, Kate attacks Alice but is staked and reduced to ash. Fortunately for all involved, this possible future seems to no longer be on the cards following the events of Futures End and Convergence.
2 REED RICHARDS, AND THE HEROES OF EARTH-2010
Following the runaway success of Kingdom Come, Marvel toyed with its own ideas of a bleak, alternate future. Concocted by legendary artist Alex Ross, Earth X is a world where every human has superpowers. The sprawling epic spawned two sequels, and before its finale came the prequel series Paradise X: Heralds, where X-51 summoned heroes to deliver a warning of the end of the universe.
Notably among the team was Bloodstorm, the Storm of Earth-2010. On her Earth, the vampire virus has spread and turned everyone on Earth into vampires. The most notable heroes of her Earth, from Cyclops to Reed Richards, even the likes of Power Man and Iron Fist, had all been turned. This Earth actually persisted thanks to Richards, who had developed a means of ridding the world of vampires but couldn’t bring himself to use it.
Bloodstorm was such a fan favorite over the years that when X-Factor member Havok was believed to have died at the end of X-Factor’s long run, he actually went to an alternate reality to join with Bloodstorm! Mutant X saw Havok transported to a twisted version of our own reality, one where he led The Six alongside the Goblin Queen, Madelyne Pryor.
The team also included Bloodstorm, who at one point turned Gambit into her sire after he was grievously injured. Gambit came to hate Bloodstorm, resentful of being transformed into a vampire. Gambit made several appearances in Mutant X, eventually betraying the team to protect his daughter and never being seen again. Bloodstorm, in the meantime, remained popular enough to resurface in recent issues of X-Men Blue.
Which other superheroes and villains have been turned into bloodsucking vampires? Let us know in the comments!