Your Kitsch is on my List
When it comes to villains, they fall into categories. You have some who are rich guys who use their power and wealth for nefarious purposes. Think, like, Lex Luthor. You have vampires like Morbius and the actual Dracula. You have a very famous example of a man who dresses like a bat - Brickbat. And you have Nazis. As in world history and the modern day, there are way too many Nazis villains in the comic books.
But what if you're looking for a villain that checks all those boxes? An out-of-touch rich guy who dresses like a bat, and who's also a vampire Nazi? First...why? Who has that list, and why are they making it? But, you got your weird, extremely specific wish...with Baron Blood.
John Falsworth had a dream in his heart: he wanted to be Lord Falsworth. Follow in his dad's footsteps. This was the 1910s, so it was right in the middle of the Downton Abbey era. He'd have a full staff living downstairs, a grown man to dress and bathe him every morning. True luxury. This dream was aided by John Falsworth's recently diseased father, which, even though John will reveal himself to be a literally bloodthirsty sociopath, was unrelated to John's ambitions. Probably.
Anyway, John Falsworth revealed that he wasn't one for thinking things through when the estate and title did not in fact pass to him, but to his older brother, the even more cartoonishly-named Montgomery Falsworth.
It was weird that John had such a dream when it would never come to pass. Like, that's entry-level primogeniture. That's no frills, no bells and whistles. That's what English society had existed on forever. As long as Montgomery lived, John would never be Lord Falsworth. And this isn't even a thing where John tried to kill his brother. John Falsworth...he took the L. He left England the next day for the Continent, because he had a new life-long dream. He was going to find and enslave Dracula.
Which, you know, I'll give him props for creativity and ambition. Finding and enslaving Dracula...that's...a goal. Not a good one because he's a made-up character from a novel in a country that's not real, but John Falsworth wasn't going to let trivial things like facts and reality stand in his way. He made his way to Hungary, traveled to Castle Bran and...
...yep. There in the basement...Dracula's coffin. Turns out Bram Stoker's novel was non-fiction. Has anyone checked the basement of Castle Bran for old, sinister looking coffins? John threw open the coffin containing the king of vampires.
Now, when I was a teen I thought...I could take a vampire. You have so many advantages. You have the cross and the holy water. The counting thing. The bit where they have to be invited in, the fact that they die in sunlight when the earth - has a lot of sunlight. I was fine. I could do it.
Growing up, I now know that I would, like, forget to get the water blessed or grab the wrong one or get the rules wrong or be my overly-polite Midwestern self and just reflexively invite them in and just die. I have no business fighting vampires.
John was still in that early phase, though, and he had plans.
You know that meme, where it's like, Step 1: gain control of Dracula, Step 2: ???, Step 3: Profit....that was basically John Falsworth's plan. He said he had so much ambition, and he was going to use his control over the actual Dracula to realize that ambition throughout the European continent. It doesn't say how. Frankly, I think it would be exhausting to try to keep Dracula under control to...what...do something with the stock market?
Well, it didn't matter because John Falsworth died. Dracula did exist, and he was really angry about some guy trying to control him with a cross. He bit John Falsworth after commanding him to drop the cross because Dracula can hypnotize people, and Dracula killed him.
He got better, though. John was a vampire now and Dracula sent him on a side-quest to just...cause problems for England, the land of his hated enemies: the Harkers.
The War to End all Wars (and then all the subsequent wars that followed it)
I'm pretty sure Dracula just wanted to get the guy out of his impressively slicked-back, Bela Lugosi hair, but John took his new mission seriously. The world, in the 1910s, was going through a bit of a rough patch, going through the soon-to-be inaccurately named War to End All Wars. Instead of targeting the Harkers' descendants in particular, John chose to go big picture and fight England in general, joining up with its once and future enemies, the country of Germany.
He helped out the Kaiser, studied arcane stuff for about twenty years after they lost, and then, when a certain ruler of Germany stepped up, Falsworth decided to get back in the game.
Now, it may be controversial to say nowadays, Hitler...he's bad guy. And not like haha death ray and secret lair bad guy but seriously evil. It takes a—at best—destructively misguided and at worst similarly evil person to look at Hitler and say...that guy? That's my guy.
John Falsworth was that person. To his credit, he spotted Hitler's evil immediately. To his...whatever the opposite of credit is, he flew to Germany and joined the Third Reich.
So now, John Falsworth has reached his devolution. Hitler, in history, was famously into the occult, and John Falsworth was a beneficiary of that interest when Nazi scientists designed a way for him to stay out in the sun for a limited amount of time, and sent him on a mission. A mission back home.
Honestly I think Hitler just wanted the guy out of his dorky side part hair, too, because John's mission was just...go cause trouble in England. It does feel like a missed opportunity, spy-wise, to have English nobility wanting to turn against their country and just sending them home to do whatever. John must have been tough to deal with.
Anyway, he went home, posing as his own son to explain the fact that he hadn't aged in thirty years, and inserted himself back into his family estate. There, he learned that his brother, the now aged Montgomery Falsworth, had been the superhero Union Jack during the first World War. He was hosting the Invaders, a group that includes Captain America, The Human Torch, Namor the Submariner, and others, and its slowly revealed that John Falsworth is Baron Blood, the vampiric monster who has been plaguing England. He wants to aid the Nazis, but most of all he wants revenge on his brother for being born before him.
As we mentioned at the top, Baron Blood also dressed up like a bat, but not in a cool cape and cowl way, but in a skin-tight bat bodysuit with anatomically correct bat ears. It...was a look.
He also had a batcave under his family estate, but his was more of an actual literal cave, and he ended his first run being impaled on a stalagmite.
There's a whole bit where a character so racially insensitive that Marvel puts a warning before the comics now, Lady Lotus, assembled a Nazi supervillain team, the New Axis, to battle the Invaders in their final issue. They resurrected Baron Blood for the third time for the final fight, but he made the mistake of attacking some people on a wooden roller coaster and getting impaled.
Vampires never really die, though, and Baron Blood had a small cameo before he was truly resurrected for modern-day comics and storylines we won't go into. Namor was...a bad boyfriend. It was hard to find time for a relationship between fighting World War II and ruling an undersea kingdom. Also, those feet wings have to be kind of difficult to ignore. So, he shouldn't have been surprised to find that his Irish girlfriend could fall for an attractive vampire...and also she was lonely enough to fall for John.
- Invaders #7-9,40-41
- Namor the Sub-mariner Annual #2
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