The comic book history of Hellcow, enemy of Howard the Duck, from Marvel Comics.

If you’ve ever wondered what Dracula does in a pinch – like, when he’s super-thirsty and doesn’t have access to any human blood – well, Hellcow is what happens.

One night in the 1670s in Switzerland, Dracula was flying by the farm of Old Hans, a Swiss farmer, when the Count was about to fall out of the sky. He hadn’t eaten in days, and would pass out if he didn’t get something. He didn’t have the strength to fight a farmer, even an old one, so he found the barn.

An utterly terrifying origin.

Bess began life as the beloved milk cow of a then not-so-old Hans. She died as a light snack for the king of vampires and, having been buried by the weeping and inconsolable Old Hans, Bess rose again…as Hellcow…which is just a normal milk cow with red eyes, fangs, and, of course, a black and red Dracula-style cape.

She spent the following three hundred years confusing farmers, who would come into their barn and see a new cow there wearing a cape. When they approached her, she would smack them with a hoof and then drain them of their blood. Invigorated, her cape would turn to bat wings and she’d fly off in search of the one who had cursed her with this life, Dracula himself, to take her revenge.

If you meet a cow in a cape, run. Image copyright Marvel.

She surfaced again in 1970, when Howard the Duck, an anthropomorphic talking Duck who we’re not going to talk about today, was looking for a way to make a few bucks and maybe join the Cleveland police force. He learned of several farm murders, and it was shortly after that he was attacked. By a cow. In Cleveland. Look. I live in Ohio, and if you think that Ohio is just cities and farms and that it’s possible for you to get attacked by livestock in one of our cities, well…I mean…you’re probably not right about that? Maybe. We do have this thing where the instant you leave the greater metropolitan area of a city you’re in a cornfield so…maybe cow attacks are possible?

He held her off with a tire iron – remember, it’s shaped like a cross, and finally did her in with a stake through her, quote, cold, un-milk-able udder. He called in his triumph to the Cleveland police but, seeing a talking duck standing over the body of a cow wearing a cape, they decided that they needed precisely none of that and noped on out of there hard.

The way most vampires die: staked by an anthropomorphic duck in an auto repair shop. Image copyright Marvel.

Hellcow’s undeath wouldn’t end there, though, because even though she got a stake through the heart, Howard didn’t cut her head off, which is surprisingly accurate to the original novel of Dracula, so she didn’t die. Because there are apparently guys stalking the streets of Cleveland at all hours of the night looking for incapacitated vampire cows – and I’ve been to Cleveland, that tracks, Hellcow was taken captive by Doctor Kilgore.

I’m sure there are perfectly normal doctor Kilgores out there. You can have the name Killgore and a doctorate and not be a mad scientist…but when you are in the Marvel universe and spend your evenings looking for vampire cows to cure tuberculosis…well, I have some bad news for you. You’re a mad scientist.

And yeah, I guess Dr. Kilgore had heard the legend of the vampire cow and had been following the news, learning of the recent farmer deaths and putting the pieces of the puzzle together. He abducted Hellcow to use her milk to cure tuberculosis and maybe grant him immortality. Some pretty big, unconnected goals there but sure. Who knows what will happen when you drink vampire cow milk?

It's actually kind of sweet. Image copyright Marvel.

Well, it turns out not that. Undeterred, Kilgore abducted Wade Wilson, AKA Deadpool, to try to gain his healing factor, but this also did not go well, as it just made the mad scientist even more disconnected from reality. Hellcow teamed up with Deadpool, turned him into a vampire temporarily so he could get his healing factor back, and the pair defeated Dr. Kilgore. They escaped into the sunlight when…Deadpool realized that his new best friend, the vampire cow, just walked out into sunlight. He turned back to see that Hellcow had been transformed into a cooked hamburger patty.

lol. Image copyright Marvel.

Deadpool is famous for being able to break the fourth wall – the invisible wall that separates the audience from the story. Because he can break out of his own story, he does just that, flipping back through his own comic book to save Hellcow. The next time they rushed out of the lab, Deadpool staked his new friend to keep her from leaving before nightfall, immobilizing her and saving her from an impending hamburgerfication.

Grateful to Deadpool and deciding to give up on the vengeance that had fueled her for centuries, she joined his mercenary team, known as Deadpool, Inc. and together they stole a bunch of abandoned SHIELD technology. Must have used it to, because the last time she made an appearance, she had a mostly-human body with just a cow head left over.  Which…is somehow less normal than just a vampire cow who only moos.

Holy Comic Book Sources, Batman!

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