Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thinking out loud: Vampires and Zombies and Werewolves, oh my!

An "issue" that I've noticed comics newcomers having on occasion is that most superhero settings freely mix science and magic. Even the Marvel Cinematic Universe does it, with a little bit of "Clarke's Law" hand waving to explain Asgard and the Gods.The MCU Doctor Strange will be an interesting experiment in getting the mainstream cinema audience to accept magic in a contemporary setting. So what's the deal with Dracula being a major fixture of the Marvel Universe, or Frankenstein's Monster being a member of the Outsiders? Time for a bit of a comics history lesson. Back in the "good ol' days" comics came in a variety of genres; not just superheroes, but pirates, space adventures, horror, romance, war stories, pretty much anything went. Naturally, there were comic interpretations of classics like Dracula and Frankenstein. When superheroes really took off for Marvel and DC in the 1960s, they had a choice; ignore the decades of of other continuity or try and fold it all together somehow. 

Naturally, Stan Lee decided to mesh everything he had worked on together no matter how silly it made the fetal, emerging, Marvel Universe. Y'know Patsy Walker from Jessica Jones on Netflix? Well she's an Avenger known as Hellcat in the comics, but she started in Patsy Walker comics as a teenaged romantic lead. Lee, not being one to let any idea go to waste, his own or not, recycled Patsy when he needed [yet] another Avenger. Same deal with Dracula. He's still somehow a big deal in the Marvel Universe, Captain Britain and MI-13 (an underrated series canceled before its time) concludes with a story arch about Dracula trying to invade Great Britain from the moon with his army of magic vampires. Frankenstein's Monster also has, maybe, two lines in 52, but as I read more Marvel, I notice it more in that. 

So, do Vampires and other monsters have a place in Superhero adventures? Hell yes! In worlds populated by alien gods, irradiated monsters and billionaires in bat costumes, are vampires, zombies and werewolves really that far out? Personally, I'm working on a Vampire-themed team for my French Revolution campaign, but who knows if they'll turn up in modern day or even the future? The supernatural is a great excuse for wacky shenanigans in supers gaming, it can provide new antagonists and open up a realm of new characters from horror that can come into your games. 

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