Avengers (7th series) #14

Issue Date: 
April 2019
Story Title: 
The Fall of Castle Dracula

Jason Aaron (writer), David Marquez (artist), Justin Ponsor & Erick Arciniego (colorists), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), David Marquez & Justin Ponsor (cover artists), Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz & David Curiel; Matteo Scalera & Rain Beredo (vairant cover artists), Carlos Lao (graphic designer), Alanna Smith (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (president), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Avengers created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

In Romania, the Shadow Colonel and his Legion of the Unliving have decimated Castle Dracula as they push for a war between factions of vampires. In the skies over Symkaria, Captain Marvel attempts to pilot a passenger plane that was hijacked by vampires. Blade is with her and he does what he can to take out as many vampires as possible. In Wakanda, vampires within the Great Mound lurk towards Iron Man and the Black Panther, who wants to try and help the vampires, but they lash out at him, so he and Iron Man are forced to destroy them. In Central Romania, Captain America is assisting with evacuation of civilians, ushering them into a nearby church, while Thor takes out the vampires that are approaching them. Captain America speaks to the vampires and offers to help relocate them, but they are not interested, and the fight continues. Beneath the streets of Manhattan, in the Monster Metropolis, She-Hulk and Ghost Rider are fighting vampires when Ghost Rider encounters a strange child, who taunts the new Ghost Rider for being a monster himself. Back in Central Romania, Captain America and Thor find the vampires fleeing, when the mysterious Shadow Colonel arrives with is dog, Sarge, and they take them both into custody back at Avengers Mansion. Blade interrogates the Shadow Colonel for some time, but mostly the Shadow Colonel frustrates Blade, taunting him. Robbie Reyes is struggling with the monster taunts of the strange child, and tries to get his car to talk to him, but it doesn't respond. He powers up when the vampire dog, Sarge finds him and tells him to get into the car, while the Shadow Colonel boasts that he is the new Lord of the Vampires. Meanwhile, Darkstar and Vanguard are patrolling the Russian / Ukranian Border when Dracula arrives, seeking political asylum!

Full Summary: 

The Carpathian Mountains in Romania, where under the night sky, a sprawling castle is ablaze. The attack was sudden and brutally efficient, and as swarms of bats rain napalm on the parapets, rats fitted with sunburst grenades scurry through the castle's labyrinthine corridors, reducing its inhabitants to wailing husks – every man, woman and murderous child. The sentries outside the main sepulchre have been standing guard since the 15th Century, fighting off armies of Turks and Knights Templar and generations of Van Helsings. But they have never faced anything quite like the rotary cannon currently firing 2,000 wooden stakes a minute into their undead hearts. The most fearsome castle ever raised is engulfed in flames, and before the night is through, will be reduced to smoldering rubble. But that is not enough to sate the fury of the squad of heavily armed invaders who now find themselves standing over an empty coffin, with one question on theier minds.

'Where is he? Where's the coward hiding? Where's Dracula!?' demands the masked, armored Shadow Colonel, who searches the castle with his Legion of the Unliving. Boy Thing clings to Shadow Colonel's shoulder, while Lily Cromwell a.k.a. Baroness Blood stands ready with a cross-bow. The mysterious warrior called Snowsnake stands behind her, swords held in each hand, while the giant bat creature, Carpathian, clings to the tunnel above them. The Rat Bomber crouches nearby, dozens of rats running over his body, as the skull-headed dog, Sarge, scurries at the Shadow Colonel's feet. They have just slaughtered the most devoted vampire disciples of the Lord of the Damned. This Legion of the Unliving are vampires themselves – vampires at war with vampires.

There is someone else who knows a thing or two about this sort of conflict. His name is Blade, and at this moment, he shoves a stake into a blue-skinned vampire's chest. He looks behind him and sees several other vampires, one of them who hisses at him and snarls 'You miserable daywalker! Your blood's not even worth drinking' and warns him that they will flush it down the toilet when they are done tearing him to pieces. 'Yeah, wouldn't go in there for a while if I was you' Blade jokes as he steps from the airplane toilet. Suddenly, a voice announces over the intercom 'Attention, passengers! Those of you who are not vampires, please move to the rear of the plane in an orderly fashion and strap yourselves in!' The plane' pilot is slumped over in the cockpit, while Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel has found herself piloting the plane. A vampire attempts to grab her, but Captain Marvel chokes the vampire, while remarking that there may be a bit of turbulence, but they will have them on the ground safe and as soon as possible. 'You have my word as an Avenger! This is your captain speaking!'

The flight that Captain Marvel pilots across a night sky is Roxxon Air Flight 959, currently somewhere over Symkaria, the outside of the plane swarmed with vampires who latch onto it. Vampires hijacked the flight ten minutes ago. 'If we stop running, we're all dead!' one of the vampires exclaims as several of them lunge at Blade, knocking him back. 'Don't you know what's coming for us? What's been unleashed? There's no safe place anymore! The castle has fallen and nobody has any sun-damned idea where Dracula -' a second vampire begins, before Blade kicks it in the face, knocking the vampire backwards. 'You don't gotta worry your pretty vamp head about what's coming. Because whatever the hell it is...you bloodsuckers ain't gonna live that long' Blade warns them as he pulls out a deadly weapon with harpoon-like spikes on both ends.

Captain Marvel can be heard over the intercom again, asking Blade how it is coming back there. 'Silver nunchucks. That's how it's coming' Blade replies, before telling Captain Marvel to leave him alone, as it is time to murder the doughnuts. 'Not really how that expression goes, but okay' Carol responds. Carol tells Blade that she just wanted to make sure he was feeling up to this, that T'Challa wasn't happy about him leaving the infirmary at Avengers Mountain so soon. 'Since when is he ever happy about anything? Broodiest damn rich man I ever met' Blade replies as he slashes two vampires with the silver nunchuck weapon. Blade then kicks another vampire in the face and reminds Captain Marvel that there is a vampire war going on, and that if the Black Panther things for one second that he is about to sit that out – then he doesn't know $%#& about him. Blade shoves the sharp silver nunchuck through the chest of one vampire, before turning to the others and remarking 'C'mon, suckhead. Time to return your seat to its upright position'.

Meanwhile, in the Great Mound, within Wakanda: T'Challa the Black Panther and Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man examine the cavernous surroundings as the Black Panther reports that the mines are clear of workers, and the Hatut Zeraze are standing by to hold the perimeter aboveground. 'Great. So that means that down here it's just you, me...and a crazed horde of our closest friends' Iron Man mutters, before asking how this many vampires ever got past Wakanda's defenses. T'Challa explains that they turned into snakes and slithered through the sewers. 'damn. They must want that vibranium bad' Iron Man repplies. T'Challa informs him that the fall of Castle Dracul has created chaos and upheaval in every corner of vampire society – and now the different factions are turning on one another, so getting their hands on vibranium would no doubt put this particular sect ahead in the undead arms race.

The Black Panther slams his fist to the ground which creates a shockwave that knocks back dozens of vampires skulking in the cavern shadows. He tells them that as King of Wakanda, they have his word that he can help them – maybe even cure them someday, if they just stand down. Iron Man flies forward and tells the Black Panther that he doesn't think they are listening – he's pretty sure the only thing these guys hear right now is the dinner bell. Iron Man announces that his solar cells are good and charged. 'How about you, your Pantherness?' Iron Man asks. 'So be it. May their souls at last find peace on the ancestral plane' the Black Panther replies, before Iron Man and the Black Panther release energies that create a massive explosion that washes through the caverns. Tony Stark tells himself that the vampires aren't human, as his solar-irradiated repulsor beams turn the faces around him to blackened chunks of ash that are somehow still screaming. They're not human – they're vampires. Monsters who live by murder. They may smell human when they're burning, but they're definitely not human – definitely not. But T'Challa thinks to himself that these are human – corrupted and deformed, but they were men once, like him. Each one he successfully kills he counts as a failure because he could not save them – the King of Wakanda will have many more failures before the day is through.

Meantime, in Central Romania, specifically the region once known as Transylvania, where  Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America is leading civilians to safety. 'This way! Inside the church! Everyone!' he calls out, while a youngster clings to him. He raises his shield and points to the church, as the flames of the castle still flicker in the distance – for hours now, the night has been alive with screams. But, this is Transylvania, and everyone here has known their entire lives that the darkness holds danger. 'Aahh! They're coming from the sky!' a local calls out, pointing up to a flaming vampire. 'That one we don't have to worry about. Truly God is watching over us' another replies. 'Yes, Ma'am' Captain America tells the woman. 'He is' Cap agrees, as the Mighty Thor appears in the sky, blasting dozens of vampires with lightning bolts. But some vampires make it to the ground and the civilians run in panic. Never have these people seen so many dangers all at once. 'Where do you think you're going, meat?' a winged vampire asks, pushing a man to the ground. 'They're going with me!' Captain America exclaims, standing in front of the church.

Captain America introduces himself to the vampires and tells them that he understands they are dealing with the effects of a civil war. He remarks that he has dealt with a few of those himself, before offering to help the vampires, informing them that the Avengers can relocate them and provide them with medical care and synthetic blood supplies. 'All the blood we need's right inside that God shack!' one of the vampires calls out. 'The old country's gone to Hell! And Count Vlad's in the wind!' another vampire exclaims. A third tells Captain America that if they are going to fly themselves out of here before sunup, they are gonna need an awfully big dinner first. 'So bring out the villagers!' the vampire snarls, warning Captain America that, otherwise, they will burn this place to the ground and suck the blood outta their deep-fried skins.

Captain America can't remember the last time he was in a church, and frowns as he tells the priest nearby to keep everyone inside – no matter what he hears. 'I hope you won't mind if I borrow a little something' Cap adds, while supposing that the last time he was in a church was probably a funeral for an old army buddy, or one of those super hero weddings that always ends in a big fight – either way, he most likely left early. Suddenly, the vampires look scared, as Captain America steps out of the church and calls out 'You fellas came looking for a free meal, and I'm all for feeding those in need, but these good people aren't on the menu'. One of the vampries hisses, as Captain America holds up a massive cross in one hand, his shield in the other, 'I am!' he exclaims. 'So come take a big bite! If you've got the stomach for it!' It isn't the Steve Rogers doesn't care for church – some men are just too busy standing to ever stop and kneel.

Deep beneath the streets of Manhattan lies the Monster Metropolis, where Jennifer Walters the She-Hulk and Robbie Reyes the newest Ghost Rider are dealing to an influx of vampires. Robbie drags one of them to his flaming car, 'A city of monsters, right underneath New York. My geography teacher is gonna crap his pants when he hears about this' Robbie jokes. 'Vampires fight Hulk! Or go to Hell!' She-Hulk snarls as she grabs two vampires by their heads. 'Hell doesn't sound so bad' one vampire mutters. Robbie opens up the trunk on his car and shoves a vampire into its flames. He thinks that sending rowdy vampires to Hell through his trunk is crazy, but that it is starting to seem like he actually might belong on this team. 'You don't' a voice calls out. Robbie turns to see a small child with red skin and horns standing nearby. 'Could you just hear my...' Robbie begins, as the strange child tells Robbie that he is not an Avenger, that he is Vengeance itself – the fires of Hell in human form. 'What? Who are you, kid? How do you know my name?' Robbie asks. The boy smirks as he boasts that he knows all the Riders' names – going back to the very first, the little ghost in the snow.

'Here in the Monster Metropolis, we know our own kind when we see them. And soon the Avengers will see you as well. For all that you are. You're a monster, Robbie. You're the biggest Hell-damned monster there ever was or will be' the strange boy declares. 'I'm not a monster. I saved the world. I'm not a -' Robbie begins, before She-Hulk puts a hand on his shoulder, 'Who Rider Man talk to? Vampires smashing city. Time for other plan' she tells him. Robbie turns from She-Hulk back to the kid – but the kid has vanished. 'Where'd the kid go? The creepy kid with the...' Robbie's voice trails off, while She-Hulk shoves him into the driver's seat of his car, 'Just way we practice. Hulk plus Rider Man plus Hell Car equal... FIREBALL SPECIAL' She-Hulk exclaims as she hurls the flaming car towards some vampires who are flying nearby. 'I'm not a monster!' Ghost Rider screams to himself. He swears that he can hear the faintest laughter bubbling up from somewhere deep inside... his own burning skull!

Back in Central Romania, blood sprays upwards as Captain America shoves his shield into one vampire. 'So... you boys ready to listen to reason? Or would you like dessert?' Cap asks. 'That... smell' one horrified vampire suddenly utters, wide-eyed. 'It's him! He's here! Run! Run for your undead lives!' the vampire encourages the others, some of whom take flight. Thor drops down near Cap and reports that the skies have been cleared, and that the last few beasts have suddenly fled in terror before the wrath of the Mighty Thor. 'Sorry, big guy, but I don't think it's you they're afraid of' Cap tells his teammate. 'Yeah. That would be me' a voice calls out. Cap and Thor turn to see the mysterious Shadow Colonel walking towards them, the skull-faced dog at his side. Shadow Colonel passes burning buildings, and introduces his dog, Sarge, before remarking 'The world is in chaos and I suppose you might think it's my fault. But I can settle all of our problems, gentlemen, yours and mine both, right here and now without us ever having to see each other again. All you Avengers gotta do is answer one simple question for me... where do I find Dracula?'

Later, the moon shines down over Avengers Mountain, where inside the detention facility, located at the intestinal level, Captains America and Marvel stand with the Black Panther and look down into a room where Shadow Colonel sits at a table, his wrists shackled. 'That's all he said' Captain America reports. 'And he came along peacefully?' T'Challa asks. 'Well, Thor didn't really give him much choice' Cap replies, before Carol asks if they have no idea who this guy is. T'Challa informs her that all their scanners are able to determine is that the Shadow Colonel is a vampire, and any attempt to remove his mask would trigger explosives that are hard-wired to his body. 'Tough customer' Carol replies, before announcing that it is interrogation time. She clasps her hands and asks Captain America how he wants to handle this. 'The old good Cap, bad Cap routine?' but Captain America reports that he thinks they have someone better suited for this particular job.

A door in the interrogation room opens behind the Shadow Colonel, and Blade appears. 'Ah, at last I get to meet the world's greatest vampire hunter' the Shadow Colonel calls out. The Shadow Colonel laughs and points out that Blade had to be rescued from Dracula's dungeons by his new masters, the Avengers – the same dungeons that he just burned to the ground. 'Did you come to say thank you, Blade? Or to ask for advice? Since my team and I just did more in one night than you've accomplished in your entire life' the Shadow Colonel declares. 'You killed a buncha vamps. Congratulations. I've been doing that every night since I was 12' Blade mutters, before remarking that the Shadow Colonel didn't get the big guy, and turned the entire world into a war zone. 'Ha. For them maybe. For our kind, a little war will do us some good' the Shadow Colonel responds, before asking 'Tell me the truth now. Just between us Fangers. You don't really give a damn about the humans, do you?'

'I'm asking the questions here' Blade responds. 'Oh Hell, you do. That is so very sad' the Shadow Colonel mutters. Blade leans in and smiles as he announces that he kills vampires because they are monsters who would murder every living soul on the face of the Earth if left unchecked, before remarking that something tells him the “Colonel” has a different motivation. The Shadow Colonel just laughs at this, and tells Blade that he knows the stories about him – born in a whorehouse to a dead woman, that some Fanger made a meal of his mother while he was still inside her, and he came out half boy, half vamp – a Dhampir, a Daywalker, a cheap, watered-down copy. 'You've hated all vampires ever since, right? With a burning, murderous passion. But I think who you really hate most of all but just can't bring yourself to put out of their stinking misery...is you, Blade'. The Shadow Colonel declares that Blade isn't a man, not a vampire – he isn't sure he is a damn Avenger. 'So just what the hell are you?' the Shadow Colonel asks.

Blade angrily shoves the Shadow Colonel backwards, up against a wall. Hand around the Shadow Colonel's throat, Blade tells him to keep talking, and he will be the last thing he ever sees. The Shadow Colonel laughs, and asks Blade if he wants him to shut up – he thought that this was supposed to be an interrogation. 'You haven't even asked me why I'm here yet' the Shadow Colonel points out. Watching from outside the room, Captain America tells T'Challa and Carol that he doesn't like how this is going. The Black Panther decides that the Shadow Colonel is far too confident – as if he wanted to be brought here, before Carol asks 'What happened to his dog?'

Elsewhere within Avengers Mountain, Robbie Reyes kicks his car, 'Talk, dammit, you stupid car! Tell me what the hell I am!' he exclaims. 'How did that kid know so much about me? And is it true what he said, that I'm a...' his voice trails off when he hears Tony Star's voice over the intercomm, announcing that he is up in the Brainbary, and that he just saw a dog that growled at him and disappeared into the walls. 'Is Ghost Dog a thing we're supposed to have now and nobody told me?' Tony asks, adding that the other day he saw a talking gorilla taking a shower. Suddenly, the intercomm cuts out, and as Robbie slumps down next to his car, the large chamber they are in falls dark. 'Guys, this is Robbie in the boat dock. Can anybody hear me?' Robbie calls out. 'Ghost Rider' a voice responds. Robbie's eyes flash orange, as he turns and asks 'What? Who's there?' The voice responds with 'In the name of Mephisto' and suddenly, Robbie is ablaze, while realizing that it hurt more than usual. 'What's...' he begins, as the voice utters 'In the name of Lord Marduk, the Morningstar. In the name of  Zarathos and Zadkiel'.

Back in the interrogation room, 'Who are you? Why are you -' Blade begins, before the Shadow Colonel knocks him backwards, and suddenly breaks the shackles restraining his hands. The Shadow Colonel boasts that he is the new Lord of the Vampires – and warns Blade that either he is with him, or hi isn't. 'Let me save you the trouble of deciding, Daywalker. You and your friends the Avengers can go to Hell... and I know just the way to get you there'.

At that moment in the boat dock, Ghost Rider is now fully engulfed in flames, and moves away from his car, as the voice calls out to him 'In the name of Eli Morrow and whatever other masters you might be serving, above or below'. Robbie calls out to his car to help him, while the voice adds 'In the name of Vengeance, I invoke you'. It's the Shadow Colonel's dog, Sarge, who steps out of the shadows and as Robbie completely transforms into Ghost rider, fully ablaze, a skull-like head and spiked costume, he screams, while Sarge tells him to get in and start the damn car.

Meantime, on the Russian/Ukrainian Border, Nicolai Krylenko a.k.a. Vanguard leans against border-control booth wearing his Red Guardian costume and mutters 'I tell you, when we re-formed the Winter Guard, I didn't imagine...we'd actually wind up standing guard'. The glamorous Laynia Petrovna a.k.a. Darkstar looks through some binoculars and tells her brother to stay sharpp, as it will be dawn soon, and that Ursa Major and the Red Widow just caught another pack of vampires trying to sneak across the border. 'If that crazy, drunk bear gets himself bitten, then we'll really have some trouble on our -' Vanguard begins, before Darkstar sees something on the infra-red scanner of her binoculars. Darkstar takes flight, and Vanguard runs after his sister, who calls out 'Stop right there! Identify yourself or I will open fire' she warns the approaching figure.

'I mean you no harm' the figure calls back to her. The mutant twins suddenly look shocked, 'Holy Hell... is that...' Vanguard utters. Darkstar tells him to call for backup, while the new arrival announces that he wishes to speak to someone in a position of authority in Moscow. The sky grows dark and lightning crackles, as the elderly man standing before Darkstar and Vanguard claims that her is a royal refugee fleeing the troubles in Romania, seeking political asylum in Russia. He introduces himself as Vlad Tepes, Prince of Wallachia – Count Dracula of Transylvania! He reports that he has lost his ancestral home, he has lost everything – and just wishes to know peace in the humble twilight of his life....

Characters Involved: 

Black Panther, Blade, Captain America, Captain Marvel VI, Ghost Rider V, Iron Man, She-Hulk, Thor (all Avengers)
Darkstar & Vanguard (both Winter Guard)
Baroness Blood, Boy-Thing, Carpathian, Rat Bomber, Sarge, Shadow Colonel, Snowsnake (all Legion of the Unliving)



Adze Clan Vampires

Story Notes: 

This issue has the Legacy number of Avengers (1st series) #704.

This Legion of the Unliving is the sixth group to bear that name.

This issue marks the first full appearances of Snowsnake, Boy-Thing, Carpathian, Rat Bomber and Sarge, all except Sarge are unnamed this issue.

Although unnamed this issue, ther strange boy with red skin and horns that Ghost Rider speaks to is Mephisto.

The talking gorilla taking a shower that is referenced to is Gorilla Man, one of the Agents of Wakanda.

Darkstar & Vanguard last appeared in Avengers (8th series) #10 in which the Winter Guard was reformed.


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