Eric Cross Brooks, the man known as Blade, first appeared in Tomb of Dracula #10 in 1973 and was created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan. He began as a vampire-immune human but was retconned as a dhampir or the product of a vampire and a human coupling.
Blade’s prostitute mother was bitten by vampire Deacon Frost as he was being born which transferred the abilities of the vampire to baby Eric but none of the limitations, other than sensitivity to light. He was raised by the women of the brothel and was trained by jazz musician and vampire hunter Jamal Afari. The musician trained Blade in both music and combat, making the young man a skilled fighter and a good trumpet player. Brooks also received additional martial arts training from Chaste leader and Daredevil mentor Stick.
Other than to eliminate some of the more problematic stereotypical and “blaxploitation” aspects of the character's beginnings, Blade hasn’t had to change much over the years. It turns out a cool, kick-ass vampire killer with a bad attitude and a pair of sunglasses is fairly timeless. The trilogy of “Blade” movies from the 90s with Wesley Snipes are well remembered and the upcoming Marvel Studios reboot is highly anticipated. Blade has come against many powerful foes and, through skill and sheer determination, has always prevailed.
10. Taj Nital
Taj Nital was a member of Quincy Harker’s group of vampire hunters. Nital was part of a trusted inner circle of the aging and crippled Harker that included Rachel Van Helsing, the granddaughter of Quincy’s parents' friend and mentor Abraham Van Helsing, and Frank Drake, a direct descendant of Dracula himself. An attack by a group of vampires led by the vampire lord left Nital mute, his wife in a wheelchair and his son, Adri, cursed with vampirism.
Taj left the vampire hunters after an angry mob of villagers broke into his home and killed his son, who his wife had kept in the basement for five years. Nital wrote a farewell letter to Rachel in Tomb of Dracula #34. Sometime later, the ancient vampire Varnae found him and turned him into a vampire. He was told to kill Blade, who Varnae had abducted and brought to his base in Rhode Island. Blade was forced to stake his former ally, killing him.
The Nightstalkers arrived to assist Blade. Hannibal King fell under Varnae’s thrall but he showed incredible willpower in impaling himself to not hurt his friends. Frank Drake shot Varnae with his Exorcist Gun to no effect. He overloaded it and ran at the vampire, bringing the castle down on everyone. Blade and King survived and Eric gave Hannibal Doom’s elixir to cure his blood lust.