DON SANTIAGO DE VALDEZ

Real Name: Unrevealed (see comments)

Identity/Class: Human vampire (Spanish citizen; 15th century through late 19th)

Occupation: Nobleman

Group Membership: Formerly Hernando de Estrada's Central American expedition (Hernando de Estrada, Porfirio Lopez, Juan Savilla, unidentified priest, others)

Affiliations: None

Enemies: Steve Brill, Hernando de Estrada, Juan Lopez, Juan Savilla, unidentified priest

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Indian burial mound, Brill Ranch, West Texas;
   formerly Castile, Spain

First Appearance: (historical) Weird Tales Magazine XIX#5 (May 1932);
   (Marvel) Chamber of Chills#2 (January 1973)

Powers/Abilities: Santiago has many of the standard vampiric attributes, including not aging and so being potentially immortal. He possessed greater than human strength, although this was badly weakened after centuries without feeding. He could also apparently adopt a batlike humanoid form, but did not evidence any other shapeshifting abilities (see comments). He was also immune to being shot. Unlike some other vampires he did not need to be invited to enter a dwelling, nor to sleep on a bed of his native soil. It also appeared that sunlight did not burn him nor require him to remain inactive, instead becoming torpid only when gorged on human blood. Though he required to feed on this stolen fluid, he could survive for centuries without it, albeit in a state of extreme discomfort and hunger.

Height: Unrevealed; 5'8" (by rough estimation)
Weight: Unrevealed; 140 lbs. (by rough estimation)
Eyes: Unrevealed
Hair: Black

History:
(Weird Tales Magazine XIX#5 (fb)) - The vampire later known as Santiago de Valdez lived under another name in the mountains of Castile (later part of Spain) since the time of the Moors, feeding off the blood of countless innocents to maintain his own immortality. Eventually however, his foul reputation grew to the point where he was driven out and some time in the early 1540s he was forced to flee Spain by ship for the New World. On board he fed off the other passengers and crew, disposing of their remains over the side, until eventually he found himself alone and adrift in the Caribbean.

(Chamber of Chills#2 (fb) - BTS) - In 1545 his ship was found by another vessel carrying the explorer Hernando de Estrada, on his way to Mexico to seek his fortune, and the vampire, now using the name Don Santiago de Valdez, claimed that the rest on board had succumbed to plague. He joined their expedition, and as they traversed their new continent, he began to pick them off one by one.

(Chamber of Chills#2 (fb)) - As the expedition marched over mountains and deserts, men began to die, their bodies found with strange wounds on their necks.

(Weird Tales Magazine XIX#5 (fb)) - Fear and suspicion that the killer was one of them caused distrust and suspicion to grow within the expedition, and as a result the men began to draw apart from one another, scattering along the line of march, but this merely made it easier for Santiago to prey on stragglers, drowsing sentries and sleeping men.

(Chamber of Chills#2 (fb)) - Eventually the expedition's priest became the vampire's latest victim, but unfortunately for Santiago the holy man held on to life just long enough to identify Valdez as his assailant and a vampire.

(Weird Tales Magazine XIX#5 (fb)) -The few surviving men, including de Estrada, found Santiago, hidden ...

(Chamber of Chills#2 (fb)) - in the shadows of a bush, sleeping...

(Weird Tales Magazine XIX#5 (fb)) - deeply after gorging himself. They debated how to slay the creature, but though his slumber seemed deep, they feared trying to drive a stake into the vampire would rouse him. Instead...

(Chamber of Chills#2 (fb)) - they carried him to a nearby Native burial mound, and placed him within, then covered it with heavy stones, trusting their weight would keep Santiago trapped, hopefully for all eternity.

(Weird Tales Magazine XIX#5 (fb)) - One of the survivors, Porfirio Lopez, eventually had a son, who in turn had children, and down this family line the tale was passed, each new generation sworn to not speak the story to outsiders.

(Vampires: The Marvel Undead Handbook) - By the late 19th century...

(Chamber of Chills#2) - the region had become past of Western Texas, and the mound was near the home of Steve Brill and his neighbor Juan Lopez. Suspecting the mound might contain hidden gold and ignoring Juan's warnings, Brill dug up the mound, until he reached the largest stone. Unable to move it by hand, he went to get a crowbar...

(Chamber of Chills#2 - BTS) - but in his absence Santiago, feeling the weight on him reduced, managed to throw off the final stone and escape his prison. He immediately headed for the nearest source of blood, Lopez's shack, and...

(Chamber of Chills#2) - attacked Lopez. Having returned to find the stone moved and believing Lopez had stolen his "treasure" while he had been away, Brill was nearing the shack and saw Santiago's monstrous form silhouetted in the shack's window.

(Chamber of Chills#2 - BTS) - Santiago left the shack moments before Brill burst in to find Lopez's corpse. The vampire located the rancher's horses and attacked them too, driving them off so the rancher could not try to flee or get help. The rancher, having found papers Lopez had written recounting the legend, retreated to his own ranchhouse, but...

(Chamber of Chills#2) - the vampire came upon the home and burst in through the window to attack the man. Santiago ignored Brill's shots and tried to pin him down to feast on him, boasting that Brill's mortal strength was no match for his vampiric might. Not willing to take his assailant's word, Brill fought back, eventually managing to leap free of Santiago's grasp. Grabbing the vampire with strength born of desperation, Brill lifted him bodily aloft and slammed him against the edge of a sturdy table with the intention of breaking the monster's spine. But even with his back broken, Santiago continued crawling towards his intended victim, so Brill used his oil filled lantern to set his own home alight, the swiftly growing flames even devouring Santiago's bones, hopefully putting the vampire to rest permanently.

(Blade III#12 - BTS) - Or at least until Blade was tricked in the modern day into completing a ritual that revived all vampires ever slain, at which point Santiago was presumably revived.

 Comments: Created by Robert E. Howard, adapted into Marvel by Gardner Fox and Frank Brunner.

   The story began as a short story in Weird Tales magazine, and though the comic story is pretty faithful, it does leave out a few minor details, such as the exact year that the vampire was imprisoned, the name of another of his victims in the expedition, Juan Savila; the details of why the vampire left Spain, that Santiago de Valdez was not his real name, and that he had been there since the time of the Moors. Since the Moors departed Spain around 1492, Santiago had been there for at least fifty years before he was driven out, and probably considerably longer. Maybe he knew the alchemist Diablo?

   Since Santiago was shown being lowered into his impromptu grave in direct daylight, it seems he didn't burn in the sunlight. Additionally, though asleep when buried, he'd been traveling with the explorers for some time before this happened; since they presumably traveled during the day, this suggests he was able to move around in the day, or he'd either have been spotted as a vampire much earlier or left behind.

   The cover of Chamber of Chills depicts a very monstrous-looking vampire, but the only in-story evidence that Santiago could shapeshift was the batlike silhouette that Steve saw in Juan's window. The cover can be written off to poetic license, but it's nice to think that perhaps that was how Santiago looked when he first emerged after roughly three centuries underground, and that he only became more human looking again once he'd fed off Juan.

   Though we see what might be mist coming out the grave at one point, I believe that's actual mist and not Santiago in mist form. First, if he could turn to mist then weighing him down with rocks wouldn't have held him. Second, the mist was right next to where Steve was, and was shown just prior to Juan being attacked; if the mist was a ravenous, newly released Santiago, he'd have attacked Steve as the closest target.

   This profile was completed 09/05/2021, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary 's celebratory event.

Profile by Loki.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Santiago de Valdez has no known connections to:


images: (without ads)
Chamber of Chills#2, p7, pan1 (main image)
Chamber of Chills#2, p6, pan2 (being buried in the mound)
Chamber of Chills#2, p4, pan6 (silhouette)
Chamber of Chills#2, p6, pan5 (being shot)
Chamber of Chills#2, p8, pan1-2 (lifted by Brill and thrown into the table)
Chamber of Chills#2, p8, pan5 (burning)
Chamber of Chills#2 cover (monstrous form)


Appearances:
Chamber of Chills#2 (January 1973) - Gardner Fox (writer), Frank Brunner (art), Roy Thomas (editor)


First Posted: 09/10/2021
Last updated:
09/07/2021

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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