The trio got their start in Tomb Of Dracula series where they hunted Dracula with Quincy Harker, and Rachel Van Helsing. The three formed a detective agency called King, Drake, and Blade, but later changed the name to Borderline Investigations. In the first issue of Nightstalkers, they are manipulated by Doctor Strange into becoming the Nightstalkers.
It was revealed to the Nightstalkers at a later time that Strange had gathered them because the Montesi Formula (which had eradicated vampires, and kept more from being created) was weakening. Strange was worried that Dracula would return, and he wanted the Nightstalkers to gain experience battling enemies like Lilin, Hydra, and Bloodstorm before that happened.
Rise of The Midnignt Sons
Doctor Strange would get the Nightstalkers together because they were part of the Nine (The Midnight Sons) which are Earths last chance against the occult. Before getting back together, Blade just got out of a mental institution, Frank Drake was trying to piece his life back together, and Hannibal was fighting against his own blood lust. Together again as the Nightstalkers, they would fight the Lilin & Meatmarket but also mistakenly be tricked by Lilith to attack Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze.
In the battle in Greenland against Lilith and the Lilin, after the battle, The Nightstalkers swore to destroy the world of anything that is occult.
As a team, Blade and Hannibal King didn't always see eye to eye due to the fact that Hannibal was a vampire, and due to Blade's early history with vampires. At this time, Hannibal was the main target of the Hydra team D.O.A. because of his vampirism.
During this time they would encounter Punisher, Ghost Rider, and Morbius during many fights against various foes.
Blade's hate for the occult grew so strong, he actually went to get his hands on the Demogorge page of the Darkhold, and turned into Switchblade, a killer of anything magic. Hannibal was first kill. He chopped his head off. Frank Drake with the help of a few members of the Midnight Sons, tried everything to stop Blade. But Blade was to strong and killed Blaze, Mordred, Victoria Montesi, Morbius, and Ghost Rider. But Louis Hastings brought Blade back to his normal self and all the characters he killed came back to life.
They would later team up with the Midnight Sons again to fight a demonic version of Spider-Man and also fight a deadly Lilin named Short Circuit in a prison.
They would later team up with the Midnight Sons during the Siege of Darkness but would mostly not see eye to eye with the other teammates. During this the Midnight sons split into two groups Frank and Blade team on on side and King with the other side. Blade's group got sucked into a trap by Morbius (under the control of another Lilin named Bloodthirst). Later on they would reunite but later get split up again after Lilith was defeated and Zarathos came back. Blade and Drake would be trapped underground and attacked by the Dust people. King would get into conflict but later team up with Morbius to find a member of the Blood. They got back together to fight Zarathos and the Fallen in a final battle with Blade delivering the final deadly blow to Zarathos. Blade and King would bare the mark of the Midnight Sons but Frank couldn't cause he was to human to get it.
The Nightstalkers ended their run in a battle with Varnae, an older vampire lord , and presumably more powerful, than Dracula. Varnae took control of King's mind in order to make him kill his teammates. Hannibal resisted enough to impale himself on a pole. Drake sacrificed himself by causing an explosion with The Exorcist (his anti-occult nano tech rifle) in an attempt to stop Varnae. Blade took the loss of his team hard, but continued to battle vampires and the occult.
What really happened?
They fight against the Atlantean vampire Varnae in which Drake overloads his anti-supernatural gun named Linda. An explosion erupts from the gun and Drake is thought to be dead along with Varnae and Hannibal. Blade escapes believing them to be dead but eventually runs into King in New Orleans who explains that Drake also survived but was left horribly scarred and crippled in both body and mind and would probably remain only a shell of his former self.
The movie Blade:Trinity introduced the Nightstalkers to the big screen. The team was still a group of professional vampire hunters, but the similarities to the comics mostly end there. The main differences are:
- Frank Drake did not exist (although Dracula was referred to as Drake, presumably as an homage to Frank.)
- Blade was not part of the team, he simply worked with them (reluctantly)
- Hannibal King was far more comedic, and used firearms with cameras on them (reference to *Linda/The Excorcist*)
- Abigail Whistler replaced Frank
- The Nightstalkers were described as a large organization with many teams