What is the Bloodstone? The eldritch artifact lies at the heart of Disney Plus' Werewolf By Night Special Presentation streaming on October 7. And, as usual for the MCU, the Bloodstone has its roots squarely planted in the history of Marvel horror comics.
In comics, the Bloodstone (or rather the "Bloodgem," as it's often called on the page, similar to the Infinity Gem/Stone difference) is a magical talisman with ties to the most ancient days of the Marvel Universe - and which is inextricably linked to the monster-slaying family of Elsa Bloodstone, who also appears in the streaming special.
What is the history of the Bloodstone in Marvel Comics? Its secrets may be many, but we've got everything you need to know about the Bloodstone in Marvel Comics right here.
What is the Bloodstone?
The Bloodstone was originally called the "Bloodgem" when it first appeared along with its first owner Ulysses Bloodstone in 1975's Marvel Presents #1, but even though the terminology may have evolved, its nature has stayed relatively the same since its introduction. Ulysses Bloodstone and the Bloodgem were initially conceived by writer/editors Marv Wolfman and Len Wein along with writer John Warner, who wrote their first appearance with art from Mike Vosburg.
In Marvel Presents #1, the Bloodgem is established as a cosmic artifact that fell to Earth in the prehistoric era, winding up in the hands of an unknown early human, who was evolved into a being of more modern intelligence and awareness by it. The human, whose original name is lost to the ages and who grew to be known in the present day as Ulysses Bloodstone, was also granted increased strength and endurance, and a kind of psychic sixth sense that can detect monsters in hiding.
When the Bloodgem arrived on Earth, it was being pursued by an alien conqueror who wished to capture it and use its power to become the prehistoric planet's ruler. But an explosion caused by its landing caused the Bloodgem to become embedded in Ulysses' chest, killing every other member of his prehistoric tribe in the process.
Using the power of the Bloodgem, the man who would become known as Ulysses hunted the alien, who vanished in the aftermath of their first fight, pursuing him for almost 10,000 years - into the modern day.
(Later stories established that a character known only as "Frank" who appeared in 1959's Strange Tales #73 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Namor creator Bill Everett was retroactively Ulysses Bloodstone using an alias, but the Bloodgem and its history don't actually factor into that story).
In that time, Ulysses Bloodstone was retroactively depicted as part of two '50s era superteams, one known as the Monster Hunters which also included the Eternal Makkari, '80s era Avenger Doctor Druid, and a Wakandan hunter named Zawadi, whose adventures appeared in the '90s title Marvel Universe.
He was also part of the group informally known as Avengers 1959, a '50s-era spy team organized by Nick Fury.
Ulysses Bloodstone eventually gave his life to defeat his alien nemesis, but that wasn't the end of the Bloodgem - or the Bloodstone family line.
The Bloodstone in the Marvel Universe
After Ulysses' death, the Bloodgem was split into two pieces, with the larger half going to his daughter Elsa Bloodstone, and the smaller piece going to his son, Cullen Bloodstone.
Elsa, who first appeared in her own 2001 limited series titled simply Bloodstone from writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning and artist Michael Lopez, is a young, somewhat bloodthirsty monster hunter who has a relationship with numerous heroes from the wider Marvel Universe.
She was a member of the cult favorite team Nextwave along with Monica Rambeau, and she was also part of the mystical team known as the Midnight Sons (recently evolved into the Midnight Suns), which has also included Blade, Morbius, Man-Thing, and Werewolf By Night into its ranks. She also joined up with an incarnation of the Defenders known as the Fearless Defenders, and she was even recruited into the Avengers Initiative.
Elsa lost her portion of the Bloodstone while teaming up with none other than Deadpool against the monstrous Bone Beast Queen, who had infected it, though she got it back after it was cleansed.
As for her brother Cullen Bloodstone, he gained a curse along with his shard of the Bloodgem - the often-uncontrollable power to polymorph into a giant kaiju-like monster. Cullen debuted in the Hunger Games-esque Avengers Arena, in which several teen superheroes were pitted against each other in a brutal, deadly competition held in the villain Arcade's deathtrap-filled Murderworld arena.
Cullen, Elsa, and the Bloodgem were all last seen in this past January's Death of Doctor Strange: Bloodstone one-shot, which introduced a third sibling, Lyra Bloodstone. Lyra is the child of Ulysses Bloodstone from hundreds of years in the past, who was taken from Earth by Ulysses' alien enemies.
Unlike Cullen and Elsa who each have a piece of the Bloodgem, Lyra has a related artifact known as the Nullgem which has the power to absorb magic.
The Bloodstone in the MCU
Werewolf By Night takes place on the grounds of Bloodstone Manor, so the concept of the family and the gem that empower them is right at the heart of the story, as the coalition of monster hunters fight to earn the right to wield the Bloodstone.
To wit, Elsa Bloodstone, played by Laura Donnelly, is one of the hunters, and the deceased Ulysses Bloodstone (he's the talking corpse) are both central to the story - especially Elsa, who wields the Bloodstone by the end of Werewolf By Night.
In the streaming special, the Bloodstone itself is brought to the screen almost entirely intact, with the same relative powers and mythical connotation as the comic - though without its full origin yet being told.
Though we'll have to wait and see just how things shake out in future MCU specials and movies, the addition of Elsa Bloodstone and her family heirloom to the MCU is another step forward in the budding horror wing of the MCU which also includes her co-stars Man-Thing and Werewolf By Night as well as Blade, Moon Knight, and more.
And considering Elsa's history as a monster-hunting superhero with connections to the Avengers, she might be a key part of connecting those horror characters to the wider MCU.
Learn the history of Marvel horror comics.