Friday, November 18, 2011

Elegant Warlords: The Corvini

I am grateful to the Underworld Wiki as well as MONSTAAH and The Crossovers Forum without which research on this article would have proven far more difficult, perhaps impossible.

Motion pictures, novels and comic books under the general heading of Underworld tell the story of a specific bloodline of the undead.
Selene & Selene
I maintain that within the (very) ficitonalized tales from Marvel Comics lie numerous hints of the Corvini, their activities and members.  One obvious such, mentioned in the Curse of the Mutants storyline, must be the Myskatos Sect--a faction of vampires who embrace technology and modern business techniques, preferring to function "behind the scenes" rather than seek overt political power.  Among other things they maintain a large public hospital whose high security allows members a haven as well as a source of blood.  This easily corresponds with what we know of the Corvini Coven (as it is called in the motion pictures).  Another bit of circumstantial evidence is the Marvel villain named Selene, a supposed mutant "energy vampire" whose lifespan extends centuries (eventually becoming the Hellfire Club's Black Queen).  Although on the surface the two appear quite dissimilar, in other ways they are remarkably alike.  Given Marvel's tendency to make up lurid details (see Legion of the Strange) for the purposes of story, this at least seems a possible point wherein the Corvini vampires and their faction interacted with characters established as part of the WNU.

Lady Holmwood & Erika
Another example is in the character of Lady Holmwood whose fate was chronicled in the BBC 2006 production of Dracula, telling one part of the multi-pronged effort in 1909 for Dracula Prime to have his revenge against the families who thwarted him in 1887.  While it is by no means conclusive, some evidence suggests that Lady Holmwood, after becoming a vampire, ended up as the concubine to Lord Kraven of the Myskatos Sect in Budapest nearly a century later (the novelization contradicts this, claiming Erica had been a vampire less than a human lifetime, but doesn't really specify what that means--making it possible that detail is a mistake)..

Far more suggestive, however, are events involving the so-called Vladislas soul-clone and the enigmatic being known as the Right Hand of God, i.e. Gabriel Van Helsing in the film Van Helsing.  Elements of that story contain numerous parallels with the Corvini.  Among the most obvious is that the Dracula-Vladislas (and his
Hybrid vampire form
three brides) showed the same startling hybrid form as Marcus Corvini--a huge humanoid bat.  This, we are told, stems from the unique genetic heritage of the descendants of Hungarian warlord Alexander Corvinus.  One of his sons was bitten by a vampire, another by a werewolf while a third remained human.  Most humans could not become either vampire or werewolf from the bite of a Corvini, but descendants of Alexander's third child could.  Dracula-Vladislas counted among his (human) relatives a young man of the Valerius family who became a werewolf of the same type of the Corvini lycanthropes (i.e. Lycans).  The sister of this young man also bore a startling resemblance to the Death Dealer Selene.  One is left with the strong suspicion that House Valerius descended from the immortal Alexander Corvinus (much as virtually all members of the Karnstein family have the potential to become vampires of a specific bloodline).
Then there is the television show Castle in which the title character--a successful author who has done lots of research into conspiracy theories and fringe movements as well as obscure lore--casually mentions his knowledge of the Vampire-Lycan War.  Another mythologist, James Bojaniuk, also pointed out:
Underworld uses the exact same wolf howl from An American Werewolf in London; Underworld: Evolution uses the werewolf transformation from An American Werewolf in London. These two bits of evidence seem to say that the already-included American Werewolf in London takes place in the same universe as the Underworld series.

Another detail that bears mentioning--Alexander Corvinus was the sole survivor of a plague in 5th century Hungary.  He emerged immortal from the experience, or so the story goes.   Methinks this might be something of an (understandable) assumption by observers.  We don't in fact know if his survival made him immortal,
Corwin of Amber
only that he did in fact survive.  I posit he was already immortal, or at least extremely long-lived by human standards, due to his paternal heritage.  Alexander Corvinus may have been the son of the Amberite Prince Corwin,  whose natural lifespan is certainly measured in centuries if not millennia.  Corwin visited Earth on many occasions, once during the Black Death (which he survived, although it left him with amnesia so he wandered the world for centuries, an unaging warrior with no idea who he might be--which brings up another wild possibility, that of he or one of his Shadows being the Left Hand of God, aka Gabriel Van Helsing!).   Although not particularly promiscuous, Corwin hardly could be called ascetic and we know he ended up with at least one offspring of whom he initially knew nothing.  Might he have impregnated a Hungarian woman sometime in the fifth century?  If so, it would help explain much of how Alexander Corvinus (note the name) came to survive that plague.

Still another--and not at all mutually exclusive possibility--remains.  Corvini vampires as well as the Vladislas clone possess one extremely unusual trait--fertility.  Male and female vampires of this bloodline can have children, with each other or with others.  Now and then other vampires (such as the Lejos and Mordante
Dracula-Vladislas & Brides
soul-clones) have shown the abiity to impregnate mortal women.  Others have managed to do it with mystical aid (the method used by Dracula Prime).  But for a vampire female to become pregnant, much less bring the child to term, hardly ever happens.  Among Corvini the evidence suggests this is very nearly the norm.  Indeed, since so few humans can even become Corvini vampires this might well be the primary method by which they increase their numbers!  Dracula-Vladislas encountered some difficulty, but one wonders if that is not because of his unique situation.  If indeed the Vladislas family are descended from Alexander Corvinus, as seems likely, it does not follow that the man eventually known as Dracula-Vladislas became a vampire of the Corvini line.  He might well have been bitten by some other type of vampire and his latent genetic heritage manifested in a way that was not seen again until the early 21st century with the mutation of Marcus Corvinus (as seen in Underworld Evolution).  We have no reason to suppose his 'brides' were related to the Corvinus family, so their ability to reproduce was seriously flawed, requiring help from Dr. Frankenstein to make their offspring viable (see the Van Helsing motion picture).

One more thought--also not at all exclusive to what is mentioned above.  One other breed of vampires demonstrated fertility, extreme damage from exposure to sunlight (several types of vampire find sunlight harmful and/or uncomfortable only) and radical shape-shifting.  I speak of the alien Wamphyri, from the alternate Earth called Starside, a handful of whom were banished to this world over the past few thousand years.  One of them, perhaps not coincidentally, vanished and was presumed destroyed by pirates in the 5th century near the Black Sea.  Nearly the same time and location as the plague from which Alexander Corvinus alone survived.  One must wonder if there is some connection?

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