Some of us had higher hopes for Wesley Snipes than the Action Jackson he’s turned into. Some of us actually remember his appearing in a terrific episode of The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd back in 1989. You just can’t get from Molly Dodd to Blade without passing through some alien distortion, some parallel vulgarity, from which your soul emerges bent entirely out of shape—which warping I call Michael Crichton.
Sure enough, after Rising Sun (1993), Snipes chose never again to be taken seriously, unless you count To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995). But if you do, you need help. None of which means I want to see anybody else play Blade—half-human, half-vampire, and all Marvel Comics, at permanent war with the sort of megalomaniacal bloodsuckers usually found at discothèques—even if, by the third time around in Blade: Trinity (2004), the franchise was trying to get by on adrenaline after it ran out of breathing room.
In lieu of Snipes, Kirk “Sticky” Jones plays Blade in Spike’s very first action-adventure series, wearing the same slick leather, fierce scowl, piercings and tattoos, with the same sword on his back and hiss on his lips (a sort of wolverine sucking in reverse), not to mention the same screenwriters and creation myth. He will be assisted in his campaign against the vampire House of Chthon by Jill Wagner as Krista Starr, a pistol-packing former Army sergeant turned woman warrior and avenging angel, whose twin brother was wasted by the raptors. Krista, though smart enough to track down a designer tattoo by Googling for glyphs, nevertheless falls into the clutches of superbaddy Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson) and his fanged squeeze Chase (Jessica Gower). Only Blade can save Krista from The Thirst.
I don’t know why the pilot begins in Moscow before settling on Detroit and see no reason to detain you with details on the death-metal music, the cartridges of killer garlic, the mysterious beasts to whom a crooked cop feeds prostitutes at night in a horror-show warehouse, nor the medical experiments that go so messily awry. But what counts in any vampire production, besides oral sex and the allegory about steroids, is the smorgasbord of fetishisms. And here Blade scores early and often: The samurai–leatherboy–gangbanger– Nazi–Batman–urban guerrilla–cyberpunk is a Christmas tree of kinkys.
Spike TV. Wednesdays, 10 P.M. Premieres June 28.