In the annals of Marvel Comics, there have been countless rivalries between hero and villain, including Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin, Captain America vs. the Red Skull, and Wolverine vs. Sabretooth. But rarely do people talk about the spite-filled feud of Dracula vs. Blade. While the dark lord of vampires and the slayers who hunt him have been a part of Marvel Comics storylines for decades, many fans seem to be completely unaware that the classic monster is a part of official Marvel continuity.
Despite his overall lack of recognition, Dracula deserves to be ranked as one of the greatest supervillains in Marvel Comics history, right up there with Doctor Doom, Magneto, and Thanos. Over the decades, he’s gone toe-to-toe with the mightiest of heroes and come out on top more often than not in some of the goriest comic book battles ever. Of course, whenever he does lose, Dracula has that whole “immortality” thing going for him, so he represents a persistent threat to the Marvel Universe.
The man who would come to be known as Count Dracula was born - as far as Marvel Comics is concerned, anyway - in the year 1430 in Transylvania. At the time, he was known as Vlad Tepes, son of Wallachian monarch Vlad Dracul. According to Marvel continuity, he doesn’t become a vampire until the mid-15th century when he fights against the Ottoman Empire. There, he comes up against Apocalypse, one of the most powerful mutants to ever live.
Apocalypse, then known as En Sabah Nur, hurts Tepes so severely that he nearly loses his life, and it's only the timely intervention of a healer that saves it. Unfortunately, that healer also happens to be a vampire; when she decides to vampirize her patient, the future Count Dracula is born.
One doesn’t need any extra reasons to fear and loathe Count Dracula, but the fact that he allies himself with the Confederate Army in Marvel Comics continuity certainly doesn’t help his reputation. After becoming an immortal vampire in the 15th century, Vlad Tepes continues to be active militarily throughout the centuries. Over the years, Dracula develops a reputation for using conflicts to his advantage, expanding an army of vampires as he travels the globe.
The Count finds himself in the United States of America during the conflict between the States, and Dracula strikes a deal with a local Confederate to stock the rebel army with his vampiric troops in exchange for the man’s daughter. Fortunately, the monstrous soldiers don't turn the tide for long.
In the real world, Count Dracula is the invention of author Bram Stoker, who created him as the central character in 1897’s Dracula and based him on numerous historical figures, including Vlad the Impaler. In the Marvel Universe, however, Dracula has an entirely different relationship with Stoker.
In Marvel continuity, somebody swipes Dracula’s diary, and it ends up in the hands of Stoker, who publishes its contents as a paranormal “tell-all” book. Dracula himself is predictably upset about this, so he writes a scathing letter denouncing Stoker as a charlatan - and then curses the message and anyone who reads it for good measure.
The details of Dracula’s long history would also serve as the basis of the long-running Tomb of Dracula series.
The Marvel version of Dracula has been a vampire for centuries, and he’s turned numerous people into children of the night - including the future Baron Blood. John Falsworth is a bitter British aristocrat when he encounters Dracula and his fangs, and he uses his newfound vampiric abilities to strike back against his home country in WWI by allying with the Germans.
The Baron is still around during WWII to once again ally himself with the Germans, bringing him into conflict with Captain America and kicking off a lengthy rivalry with the hero.