In the 1940's, Hannibal King was a private investigator making a decent living. He was hired to investigate an industrial espionage case. While investigating the factory in question, Hannibal King was killed when Deacon Frost killed everyone there. King awoke on a slab in the morgue three days later, finding himself one of the undead. Horrified with what he had become, King swore not to consummate his curse by feeding on another human. Hannibal lived on blood from blood banks, corpses, and animals. King chose not to use his vampire powers, as he felt that he lost a part of himself with each use.
Hannibal King was created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan and first appeared in Tomb of Dracula issue 25 (1974).
Major Story Arcs
King was looking for Deacon Frost between cases when he crossed paths with Blade. They both tracked Frost to an apartment but only found the dead body he left behind. At first, Blade wanted to slay King like any other vamp, but King was able to convince Blade that he had never fed on or turned a fellow human. So, they combined their resources.
They ran down multiple leads of King’s, but Blade grew impatient. Instead of King’s quiet approach, Blade decided to kick in the door only to come face to face with his vampire doppelganger. Blade tried to fight his clone but lost when he was absorbed into the doppelganger, leaving King alone with it. King was no match for it, so after some struggling, King made his escape through a window.
King had the misfortune of ducking into a party celebrating Dracula’s wedding. Frost is in attendance, but King fails to capture him. King needs Blade’s help, so he recruits Hellstorm to exorcise the doppelganger from Blade. Once freed, King slayed Blade’s clone and led him to Frost’s lair. They face an army of their own doubles before finally blowing Frost up with his own laboratory.
The Montesi Formula
While pretending to be the lawyer of a man murdered by magic means, King crossed paths with Doctor Strange. King thinks he has connected the murder to the recent resurrection of Dracula and needs backup. Dracula had been out looking for the Darkhold, and the murder victim’s last words to King were “Beware the Darkholders!”
Together, they decide to track the book in order to track Dracula. It was locked up at Avengers Mansion, which was descended on by an army of vamps. King and Strange fought their way in and teleported the book to Baron Mordo’s vacant castle. The evil of the castle would mask the book’s own evil aura from the vampires. The two would travel there to use The Montesi Formula, a spell that would banish the vampire curse, along with Wong, Blade, and Frank Drake.
When Doctor Strange used the Darkhold to cast the Montesi Formula, all the vampires on Earth were destroyed, and it became impossible for more people to be turned to vampires. Because Hannibal had never fed on a human, he was not destroyed by the Montesi Formula, although he did require a full blood transfusion to survive. After the transfusion, King was back to being a human. He remained a normal human until the Montesi Formula began weakening decades later, at which point he regained his vampire strengths and weaknesses; although he only craved human blood, he didn't need it to live.
He opened a new office, called Borderline Investigations, with Frank and Blade, however, Frank and Blade eventually went their separate ways.
Rise of the Midnight Sons
As The Montesi Formula was weakening, King could feel his bloodlust returning. Soon after, he was reunited with Drake and Blade thanks to Strange’s manipulations. He needed them to reunite so that they could face Lilith together.
Lilith ended up coming to them. She tricks them into attacking Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze. However, when Lilith’s minion, Meatmarket, got too close as a witness, Blade sniffed him out. They turned their attention to him instead. They gave the Riders a reprieve for now but also warned them that they had no intention of disbanding their partnership. They would be the Nightstalkers, and the night would no longer be a safe place for Ghost Rider’s kind.
Later, the Nightstalkers were teleported to the Arctic Circle by Strange along with the Ghost Riders, the Darkhold Redeemers, and Morbius. They all teamed up against Lilith and her Lilin.
King would stick with Frank and Blade for a while. He longed for eternal rest and was constantly butting heads with Blade, who never quite warmed up to the fact that King was a vampire. He was also using his powers more freely than he ever did in the past. Before, he used to believe that using them would strengthen the curse and make him less and less human.
Over time, his teammates got more and more aggressive. Thanks to his constant need to fight off his more primal urges, King recognized it when Blade and Frank started to cross lines. This revelation led him to start drinking, and the next time he crossed paths with Ghost Rider, he begged for the Penance Stare.
King’s dealing with Ghost Rider and Morbius angered Blade. Blade was so mad that he looked into retrieving a page of the Darkhold that could wipe the occult off the face of the Earth. Blaze got wind of this and recruited King and Frank to stop Blade by any means. They fail, and Blade makes a deal with a demon for the power to exterminate the occult himself. His first action was to behead Hannibal King, seemingly killing him.
Blade continues on a spree killing, forcing the surviving members of the Midnight Sons to reunite and fight back. In a struggle, Louise Hastings was able to take the Darkhold and cast a spell that resurrected King and all the others killed by Blade. Ghost Rider stopped his fellow resurrected from attacking Blade because Blade was one of the “Mystic Nine” (Midnight Sons) chosen to stand against Lilith.
King would dream about getting his revenge on Blade, inspiring him to give up alcohol. After some soul searching from both of them Blade and King were able to return to the Nightstalkers to continue protecting innocents from the occult.
Siege of Darkness
After a run-in with a member of the Lilin, Short Circuit, King and the other Nightstalkers are called together with the rest of the Midnight Sons by the Ghost Riders to inform them that Lilith is dead. With that news, the Nightstalkers inform the other Midnight Sons that they are all on the Nightstalker’s radar as threats, now that they are not needed to defend against Lilith.
However, their separation proved temporary. They were attacked by an army of Lilin appearing from a supernatural mist. Ghost Rider split them into two groups. King went with the two Riders and Victoria Montesi to check Cypress Hill Cemetery, where the battle that killed Lilith went down. The others stayed behind to investigate the mist.
At the cemetery, King’s group is confronted by Lilith and some of her Lilin. Luckily, they were rescued by Caretaker, who brought them into some underground tunnels, and Doctor Strange, who offered sanctuary at the Sanctum Sanctorum. The Lilin were able to track them down thanks to a possessed Morbius, who Strange was able to exorcise after the Lilin breached the Sanctum. When the two groups reunited, they took the fight to the streets and found shelter at The Night Club.
The Ghost Riders (including Vengeance) pulled away from the group to use the Medallion of Power to push Lilith into the Shadowside Dimension, but this gives Zarathos the opportunity to reach their dimension. King and the others have to now assemble the members of the Blood to push back Zarathos. They all team up to fight Zarathos, who is taken out by a special weapon used by Blade.
End of the Nightstalkers
When Hydra used a Dreadnought to steal Frank Drake’s special gun and burn down the Nightstalkers’ office space, King made plans to leave Boston for good and started hitting the bottle again. However, Strange forced them back together because not only was Frank’s gun too powerful to leave with Hydra, but they also successfully cloned Dracula. At the same time, they were approached by Domini, the wife of Dracula, who believes occult forces have taken her baby.
King did not take kindly to her arrival and lashed out. He needed to be restrained by his teammates, and eventually, he and Frank left to follow the Hydra lead. Blade stayed behind to look for the child. However, they eventually crossed paths again because both cases were related to the full weakening of the Montesi Formula. Vampires were back, and the team were left to face Varnae, the first vampire.
Frank and King were killed in action, but their bodies were never recovered from the fallen building that Blade nearly didn’t survive.
Although King was believed to be dead the last time Blade saw him, King reappeared in New Orleans and helped Blade defeat a resurrected Deacon Frost.
King later move to San Francisco and opened a small detective agency. He was hired by a CIA agent to investigate a vampire named Navarro. He was captured by Navarro and forced to feed on his first human and eventually turned the CIA agent after she begged for her life.
King was then hired by Donna Garth to find her father, Simon Garth. King found Simon in New York, where he, with the help of Spider-Man, rescued Garth from Lilith.
The Splinter Prophecy
When Blade went up against Draconis, a super-vamp that was immune to most of the major weaknesses, he asked for help from King. The two of them ambushed a party Draconis was having to celebrate killing Blade, which he didn’t realize he failed to do. They had the water supply blessed so when they firebombed the building, the sprinklers took out every other vamp, giving them a clear shot at Draconis.
Later, when King and Blade went back to the US, King tricked a paper copy of a prophecy Blade had been teased with while Blade tracked his father, Lucas Cross. When King finds out that the prophecy is about restoring the soul to all the world’s vampires, King sides with Cross over Blade. This caused King to be staked by Blade.
Blade is manipulated into fulfilling the prophecy anyway, however, it does not restore the soul to surviving vampires. Rather, it resurrected every vampire that was slayed, including King. Knowing the world would continue to need him with all the vampires back, he couldn’t take the vampiric cure Dr. Doom gave to him.
So, he gave it to King as an apology for slaying him.
- Height: 5'11"
- Weight: 190 lbs
- Eye Color: Brown, Red (when using powers)
- Hair Color: Brown
- Citizenship: American
- Place of Birth: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Occupation: Private Investigator
King has the standard powers associated with vampires. He has superhuman strength, speed, agility, stamina, senses, healing, and slowed/halted aging. Hannibal can change his body into mist, allowing him to squeeze through extremely tight spaces and fly, as well as into a large wolf.
Hannibal can also control the minds of rats, and he uses them to gather information while he rests during the day. He can also use them as weapons to swarm on an enemy and eat them alive.
In the beginning, Hannibal would avoid using his vampiric powers, believing it would cause him to lose more and more of his soul to the curse. As a Nightstalker, he used them freely.
Hannibal King made his big-screen debut in the movie Blade: Trinity, played by Ryan Reynolds.
Hannibal King was still a member of the Nightstalkers, although the team itself had changed greatly. The movie version of Hannibal had not been a PI, had been turned by a vampire named Danica Talos, and had been cured by a serum created for Blade in the first movie.
Though this version had also been a vampire, he did not retain any superhuman abilities, and instead battled vampires using firearms and hand-to-hand combat. He carried a pair of pistols with digital video cameras built into the frame so that he could keep track of vampires that he battled.