cunningham-martin-vampire-main MARTIN CUNNINGHAMcunningham-martin-vampire-face

Real Name: Martin Cunningham

Identity/Class: Human vampire;
    active in 
pre-modern era, at least (presumably 1964-1974 A.D.)

Occupation: Predator;
    he was wealthy, but there is no mention of a career.

Group MembershipVampires of Earth;

Affiliations: Mr. Peterson;
    formerly Jason Thornehill;

    Martin may or may not have been under the influence of whoever vampirized him;
    similarly, as he fatally drained Carla & Gerry Thornehill, they would have likely risen as vampires, and they may or may not have been under his influence

Enemies: Carla, Gerry, & Jason Thornehill;
    presumably, at least originally, whoever vampirized him

Known RelativesJason Thornehill (adopted son)

Aliases: Uncle Martin (from Jason Thornehill)

Base of Operations: Unspecified location in New England

First Appearance: Vampire Tales#8/3 (December, 1974)cunningham-martin-vampire-bat

Powers/Abilities: As a vampire, Martin had superhuman strength (likely lifting around 1000 lbs.) and required regular blood meals to survive.

    He could transform into a normal-sized bat; it is unrevealed whether he could transform into a wolf or into mist.

    He was certainly vulnerable to a wooden stake through the heart. He avoided and was presumably vulnerable to sunlight. He presumably had the other standard vampire vulnerabilities, including religious icons, garlic, and silver.


    Further, feeding on a human victim would turn that victim into a vampire, depending on the extent of the feeding and other circumstances.

    Those he vampirized may or may not have been subservient to him.

    When fully fed, he could likely heal rapidly from non-fatal wounds. 

    He may or may not have been able to mesmerize others with a gaze.

Height: Unrevealed (approximately 5'11" )
Weight: Unrevealed (approximately 180 lbs.)
Eyes: Unrevealed (black and white comic, but likely red); original color unrevealed
Hair: Apparently gray, receding hairline; likely darker in youth

Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb) - BTS) - Vampirized under unrevealed circumstances, Martin Cunningham owned the estate bordering Churchill Preparatory school. The lonely Martin sought a young man to adopt his son.

(Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb)) - While flying over Churchill Prep in bat form, Martin observed brash student Jason Thornehill and his classmates Gus and Kit preparing to take a late night plunge into their local swimming hole. Alighting and returning to human form, he considered that one of the young men should do quite nicely as they were neither too young nor too old (see comments). 

    Reminded of himself as a youth, Martin swiftly considered that Jason was the one he wanted. 

cunningham-martin-vampire-jason-adult    After Jason climbed high up into the giant oak "Ol' Bailey" and prepared to leap, Martin flew by in front of him, causing him to fall into some bushes. After Gus and Kit rushed off to get the principal, Martin alighted again in human form, and he was there for Jason as he awakened. 

    Claiming to have been taking a walk, hearing a call for help, and investigating to find him thusly, Martin had helped him to his feet by the time Gus and Kit returned with Mr. Peterson and the nurse. 

    As Jason tried to explain how Mr. Cunningham had taken care of him, Peterson interrupted, listing a number of rules Jason had broken, at which point Martin interrupted, suggesting that Peterson was being a little hard on the youth before noting that he had been thinking of making a donation of $50,000 to the school, but was reconsidering it if Churchill Prep was the sort of school that punished a boy for being mischievous...

    After Peterson changed his tune and assured him there would be no punishment, Martin assured Peterson he could expect his check in the morning, and then told Jason that perhaps he would see him after school as they had a great deal about which to talk. Though grateful, Jason was slightly unnerved by Martin

(Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb) - BTS) - Jason was disappointed when Martin did not show up after school.

(Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb)) - After sunset, Martin flew onto campus as a bat, descending to Earth and returning to human form unseen before greeting Jason. 

(Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb) - BTS) - Martin and Jason had a long talk, although something in Martin's manner disturbed Jason.

(Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb)) - Traveling to the Thornehill place, Martin fatally drained and drank the blood of Carla and Gerry Thornehill. Hearing Carla's scream, an unidentified neighbor returning from a party rushed to see what was wrong and observed Martin's actions. cunningham-martin-vampire-staked

(Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb) - BTS) - The witness escaped unharmed, and he apparently told others what he had seen but no one believed him. Haunted by the events, the man descended into alcoholism. 

(Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb) - BTS) - The next day, Jason was told of his parents' death.

(Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb)) - Two days later, Martin comforted Jason, who had no other living relatives, telling him he would see about adopting him.

(Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb)) - In the ensuing years, which Jason would consider "strange but pleasant," Martin treated Jason as his heir: He sent Jason to the best schools, dressed him in the best clothes, and eventually provided him with the best cars.

(Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb) - BTS) - Jason came across a 10-year-old Daily Bugle headline article describing his parents' deaths as having been slain in a "bizarre blood ritual."cunningham-martin-vampire-ashes

(Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb)) - Jason discussed the matter with Martin, who told him he could investigate if he felt he must, but he advised against it, as sometimes the past should remain buried. When Jason insisted that if it took the rest of his life, he would find who had murdered his parents and then take his revenge; Martin remained silent as Jason departed.

(Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb) - BTS) - Jason located the witness to his parents' murder, heard his story, and saw the picture the witness -- who had been an artist -- drew; Jason resolved what he had to do.

(Vampire Tales#8/3 (fb)) - When Jason returned home, Martin -- realizing Jason had learned the truth -- asked him to understand that he always been a lonely man; that Jason was so much like he had been before being stricken with "this affliction"; and they he wanted Jason to be his son and take is inheritance. When Martin asked if that was such a terrible thing while exposing his fangs, Jason thrust a wooden stake into his heart, and Martin crumbled to dust.

    Jason considered that all Martin had given him was a ten-year nightmare and an inheritance of blood.

Comments: Created by Carla & Gerry Conway and Alfredo Alcala. 

    Jason's age was not specified...I had thought it said that he was 10 years-old, but there are tons of references to ten years since his parents death and I think I may have misread a reference to the headline of his parents' death being from a 10-year-old newspaper. Regardless, the kids look like they could have been anywhere from 10-14-years-old. Jason was a few inches taller than either of his friends, and he was about up to the chin of Martin Cunningham, whose height I estimated to be 5'11". Ballparking Jason at 5' tall at that point, if his two friends were average height for their age, that fits with them being 11-years-old.

    Being fatally drained by a vampire is the most consistent means by which a person is transformed into a vampire, so Jason's parents would most likely have become vampires. They were buried two days after their deaths, and most vampires revive three days after their mortal deaths. However, perhaps Martin wished to prevent this, and he visited their graves and staked them or something.

    The first names of Carla and Gerry Thornehill were revealed in Vampires: The Marvel Undead.
    More detail was provided here, as there wasn't room for all of the information in the printed book (additionally, Carla & Gerry's information came in after all of the space for headshots was filled):

    The first names of Jason's parents were obviously in homage to writers Gerry & Carla Conway.

    Martin was likely revived by the prophecy fulfilled in Blade III#12 that brought back every vampire that had ever perished. The same is true for Carla and Gerry Thornehill, assuming they were vampirized as expected.

    Stories that occur without any direct ties to the modern Marvel Universe are typically considered to have occurred at the time of publication and outside of the sliding timescale. As this story covered a 10 year flashback and was printed in 1974, I would think the earliest portions of the story would have taken place in 1964. The end point of the story was considered the present time of the narrator, Jason Thornehill. Regardless, Jason's sideburns and the style of the clothing fits for the 70s for me.

    Martin is additionally pictured in a number of images in Jason Thornehill's profile.

Profile by Snood.

Martin Cunningham
should be distinguished from:

images: (without ads)
Vampire Tales#8/3 (December, 1974), pg. 1, panel 2 (bat form);
            panel 3 (returning to human form);
        pg. 7, panel 4 (face);
        pg. 8, panel 8 (with adult Jason);
        pg. 10, panel 3 (feeding on / slaying Carla & Gerry Thornehill);
        pg. 11, panel 4 (fangs);
            panel 5-6 (staked)

Vampire Tales#8/3: "The Inheritance" (December, 1974) - Carla & Gerry Conway (writers), Alfredo Alcala (artist), Marv Wolfman (editor), Tony Isabella (consulting editor)

First posted06/01/2022
Last updated: 06/01/2022

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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