The Tie-Ins That Bind: X-Men: Soul Killer by Richard Lee Byers

I asked in my review of the brilliant Sherlock Holmes novel when a tie-in counts. I ultimately shrugged and said public domain or not, it counted and it was simple to say so. I bring that up because we once more have a question and it’s not that simple. See, X-Men: Soul Killer is and is not a crossover novel. On one level it is. Marvel’s X-Men team up with Bram Stoker’s Dracula to stop a demon lord. Pretty classic plot.

But on that other level? Time for exposition. Tomb of Dracula, Marvel’s megahit book in the 70s, made Dracula canon in the Marvel Universe. And not “a version of Dracula.” We’re talking a very classic interpretation that feels like the canonical next step for the character. Furthermore, Dracula became a major Marvel villain. And unlike with Godzilla where for two years Godzilla was canon and then not, Dracula being in the public domain means he’s 100% still canon and always will be. So this isn’t a crossover in the sense of continuities colliding. It’s just Dracula exists in the Marvel Universe.

My stance? Look I don’t care. I’m reviewing this book because the X-Men team up with fricken DRACULA LORD OF ALL VAMPIRES. If that doesn’t sound like a blast to you then our ideas of fun are different.

The premise really isn’t much more complicated than above. Demon lord Belasco kidnaps Rogue and tries to harm her. The X-Men have to stop him. This means teaming up with Dracula. There’s an impostor of Rogue. Dracula tries to seduce Storm. Nightcrawler gets to kick ass. The book ends with Wolverine vs Dracula.

A book like this underlines why of all the comic book novels, the Boulevard ones shine brightest. A lot of the books since feel ambition free. They’re either adaptations of existing stories or timid stories with new villains. Nobody takes a wild swing like the X-Men vs demons and Dracula.

This book is a stratospheric swing too. It’s obviously not high art. It’s a silly comic book novel. But it’s insane fun. It knows it exists for the premise. Richard Lee Byers has a hoot evoking the 70s horror comic crossed with Claremont. It’s atmospheric as can be and moves at a bullet’s pace. I’m avoiding saying too much expressly because I enjoyed this as the ideal Halloween read.

As with most books in the series, it is of course out of print. But it’s actually not impossible to find. Seek it out.

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