Real Name: Frank Drake
First Appearance: Tomb of Dracula #1 c. April 1972
In a world of super powered individuals, persons with technological genius and aliens, sometimes it’s easy to forget those human beings with no powers who have made a difference. While groups like the Avengers do have highly skilled Homo sapiens like Black Widow and Hawkeye, there are those who are not an Avenger who have worked tirelessly to save the world from the threat of evil.
Case in point, Frank Drake, who made his first appearance in Tomb of Dracula #1 in 1972 is an individual who was thrown into the realm of heroism by circumstance. It was through his connection to the Lord of the Vampires Dracula that he entered into a much bigger world and while the Avengers worked to save the world from alien attacks, it was Drake and his team that saved the populace from the undead.
In his first appearance Drake was a millionaire playboy who had squandered his entire inheritance leaving him broke with nothing to his name save for a castle that was said to belong to his ancestors. Planning on selling the castle to try and recoup some of his money, Drake, his girlfriend Jean and his friend Clifton Graves travel to the castle to take a look at it. Once there they discover that the castle belonged to the fabled Count Dracula and though Frank did not believe in the tales, he was told it would soon be discovered by Clifton that Dracula was indeed real (it was also Clifton who brought Dracula back to life). Drake narrowly escaped his first encounter with Dracula when the count realized that Drake was his descendent.
After relocating to London Drake would team up with the Rachel Van Helsing and Quincy Harker, descendants of the fabled heroes of the Bram Stoker novel. He would also join forces with the vampire hunter Blade and the vampire detective Hannibal King whom would soon come to be known as the Nightstalkers. The team would clash with Dracula and other vampires repeatedly until Harker sacrificed his life to kill Dracula in a final battle.
With the threat of Dracula finally gone Drake would try a romance with Rachel, but without Dracula to fight she grew distant from him and would soon be turned into the very thing she hated. Once Drake was notified of her death at the hands of Wolverine, he teamed up once again with Blade and Hannibal King to stop him. This time they also teamed with Doctor Strange, who with their help would cast the Montesi Formula, which banished vampirism from the planet finally ending the curse of Dracula once and for all. While the threat of vampires was gone there were still many dark and supernatural threats plaguing the world and so Drake, Blade and King formed Borderline Investigations to combat them.
After the team parted due to differences Drake would find love with a woman named Marlene McKenna whom he met shortly after his break up with Rachel. All was well until Marlene fell into what Drake believed was the power of Dracula and she scarred her face and fell ill. Reluctantly Drake called upon Blade to help stop the resurrection of Dracula once again. His attempt at a return was due to the Montesi Formula weakening and vampirism was returning to the world. This would lead the Nightstalkers to reform and combat the new threats that were running rampant. This would see Drake joining a group called the Midnight Sons so they could combat the children of the ancient demon Lilith.
In time the group would fight an ancient Atlantean vampire known as Varnae. Drake would use his gun which he named Linda (after Linda Blair) and overloaded it to destroy Varnae. Blade being the only one to make it out of the battle thought Drake dead until he discovers that he had survived but was badly scarred in both mind and body and would never be himself again.
Frank Drake is a classic character of circumstance. He was the descendant of Dracula and so he felt it was his duty to undo the evil that the Count had caused. He was a real person who had issues where all he wanted was to live a normal life but due to his connection had to play his part. Drake’s adventure led him to being involved in many classic horror story arcs and is a character that I wish would resurface in the New Marvel Now! I feel the time is right for a new incarnation of the Nightstalkers with Drake leading the charge.