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Comic Book / Fiends of the Eastern Front

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Fiends of the Eastern Front is a comic sporadically published in 2000 AD. There have been multiple viewpoint characters; the one constant is Big Bad Captain Constanta, a vicious vampire who fights the enemies of Romania.

Stories published include:

  • "Fiends of the Eastern Front" (1980): In 1980, in the British sector of Berlin a cave is uncovered containing the skeleton of a German soldier clutching a diary. A German official and a British officer proceed to read it, recounting the story of private Hans Schmidt and his encounter with Constanta's vampiric soldiers during World War II.
  • "Stalingrad" (2006): An interquel set during the Battle of Stalingrad.
  • "1812" (2018): A prequel set during The Napoleonic Wars.
  • "Fiends of the Western Front": A British officer gets caught up in a conflict between Constanta and Black Max in France during World War I.
  • "Constanta": After the war, Tim Wilson travels to Romania to find out more about Constanta. This story is mostly the vampire's Backstory.
  • "Fiends of the Eastern Front 1963" (2022)
  • "Fiends of West Berlin" (2022): Constanta in the cold-war 80s. Like all the stories in the 2022 Sci-Fi Special, inspired by a song, in this case "From Her to Eternity" by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds.
  • "Fiends of the Western Front: Wilde West" (2022): Constanta meets Oscar Wilde in 1880s Nebraska.

This comic provides examples of:

  • All Germans Are Nazis: Averted. In the first two stories, The Protagonist is a German footsoldier and is treated sympathetically.
  • Alternate Continuity: In the form of an Intercontinuity Crossover with Durham Red titled The Scarlet Apocrypha, a series of one shot, self contained stories. In this version, Constanta, his unit and Hans all get wiped out by Red, who is fighting for the Soviet Union, armed with a pair of submachineguns loaded with Silver Bullets.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: After he believed that he had destroyed Captain Constanta, Hans is turned into a vampire by Constanta himself. Driven by an insatiable lust for blood, Hans is forced to feed on several Soviet soldiers before he decides to kill himself with his final Silver Bullet.
  • Antagonist Title: The fiends are the evil vampires.
  • Bad Boss: In 'Stalingrad'', when Constanta is put in charge of a section of the Stalingrad front, he often threatens the men under his command with death if they disobey his near-suicidal orders and has wounded men fed to his vampiric soldiers.
  • Bat People: Bat-people are a species older than vampires and are hostile towards them, viewing vampires as upstarts. One of them flies a red plane during World War I before running into Constanta.
  • Blood Knight: Constanta is an almost literal example. He has fought in many wars over many centuries just so he can kill and feed off as many humans as he can.
  • Burn the Undead: Hans tries to destroy the vampiric Captain Constanta with a flamethrower while he's still sleeping in his coffin. It's not enough.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: When the Rumanian vampires begin to hunt their former German allies, Hans buys them some time by throwing a grenade onto a frozen lake, preventing the vampires from following them until it freezes over again.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: The main character melts down silverware and forges them into bullets for his machine gun to fight Constanta's vampire troops.
  • Distant Finale: Technically, the Framing Device for the first story is this with Hans' remains and diary being found in 1980, especially seeing as it's when Constanta finally meets his end.
  • Driven to Suicide: Hans loads his final silver bullet into his sidearm to use on himself when he becomes a vampire.
  • Eye Scream: Richter loses both his eyes when Constanta uses a grenade against the golem.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: Grigori Eisenstein. Eisenstein is actually a Jewish name, but still...
  • Framing Device: The original story is told through Hans' diary after it's discovered in West Berlin in 1980. "Stalingrad" has Richter tell his story to an NKVD interrogator after his capture.
  • From a Single Cell: Corporal Cringu explains that his master Captain Constanta can resurrect from the smallest leftover. Despite burning him to ashes, Hans finds out that it still wasn't enough.
  • Golem: A Rabbi makes one in Stalingrad. It's about the only thing Constanta is afraid of. Turns out the Mamayev Kurgan is also one.
  • Horror Hunger: When Hans is turned into a vampire, he is immediately struck by a lust for blood and attacks a group of nearby Russian soldiers.
  • Improvised Cross: Hans uses two pieces of wood to make a makeshift cross to prevent the vampires for killing a Russian soldier.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover:
    • Captain Constanta and his vampire soldiers made a brief appearance in the Judge Dredd story "Helter Skelter" as one of the threats inadvertently brought over from other dimensions.
    • The protagonist of the prequel 1812 is none other than Armand d'Hubert from The Duellists.
    • In Fiends of the Western Front, Constanta goes up against Black Max, Villain Protagonist of the Thunder comic of the same name.
    • One of the stories of The Scarlet Apocrypha is an Alternate Continuity of the original story where Constanta's unit gets wiped out by Durham Red.
  • Interquel: The follow-up Stalingrad is set during the original story, which primarily takes place between 1941 and 1945.
  • Leave No Witnesses: Constanta ties up the loose end of Richter by impersonating an NKVD officer, pretending to interrogate Richter, then murdering him before he can pass any information about Constanta to the higher Russian authorities, presumably allowing for Rumania to switch sides.
  • Mercy Kill: Hans kills his friend Karl at his request so that he won't be turned into a vampire.
  • Missing Reflection: Hans realizes that the Romanian soldiers his company are partnered up with are vampires when he notices that they have no reflections in the water.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: The German soldiers are depicted as regular conscripts, with no mention of any Nazi affinities.
  • Nazi Zombies: Thanks to Necromancy, Constanta brings back Richter's dead comrades to use as expendable Cannon Fodder when he starts running short on men.
  • Necromancer: Constanta is able to resurrect already-dead soldiers as mindless ghouls.
  • Not His Sled: In 1812, which crosses over with The Duellists, both d'Hubert and Ferraud make appearances. However, Ferraud is quickly killed off by a hungry Constanta, making his later duels with d'Hubert from the film impossible. D'Hubert himself later also dies, but is resurrected as a servant of Baba Yaga.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They play almost every single vampire trope straight. They drink blood, are hurt by sunlight so they only appear during the night, they sleep in coffins, they don't have reflections, they can turn into both bats and wolves (as well as mist), they're vulnerable to crosses and garlic, they can't cross water, and can be killed by decapitation, fire, silver bullets, and a stake to the heart. About the only one missing is the vampire invitation. Later stories reveal that Constanta himself is the only "pure" vampire, having made a Deal with the Devil with a coven of witches to transform him as he was close to death; everyone else turned by Constanta are his acolytes, possessing a slightly less potent version of his power set. There is also a different vampire subspecies who are more closely related to bats than Constanta and his ilk and are enemies of the regular vampires.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Richter's dead comrades are resurrected by Constanta as zombies to use as cannon fodder.
  • Prophetic Names: Grigori Eisenstein shares his first name with Rasputin. He is accordingly difficult to kill, going so far as a Not Quite Dead moment. Being a partially transformed vampire helps.
  • Red-plica Baron: The comic features a Richthofen-based villain in the WWI prequel. He's a type of vampire man-bat much older than even Captain Constanta, flying in a blood-red plane and controlling a swarm of monstrous bats.
  • The Renfield: Corporal Cringu is the human servant of the Rumanian vampires, responsible for driving a truck full of coffins near the frontlines and protecting them during daylight.
  • Silver Bullet: Hans and Karl gather various silver items to melt them down for ammunition to use against the vampiric soldiers hunting them.
  • Super Smoke: Captain Constanta and his vampire brigade are able to turn into mist. They most commonly use this during an attack against the Soviets: you can't exactly stop an enemy when they just seep into your tank cabin.
  • Universal Ammunition: The Silver Bullets Hans and Karl use in a machinegun are apparently also compatible with Hans' sidearm.
  • Vampires Sleep in Coffins: Captain Constanta and his vampire brigade rest in coffins during the day, when they are ferried around in a truck by their servant Cringu.
  • Vampires Hate Garlic: Hans and Karl create a circle out of garlic so that the Rumanian vampires can't get near them.
  • Vampire Hickey: In the novel adaptation, Sergei is bitten by one of the eponymous fiends. The squad treats it by bandaging his silver Star of David pendant against the fang wounds in an effort to burn out the infection. It results in Sergei becoming a Daywalking Vampire and the wounds mutating into tiny, monstrous mouths, complete with tongues.
  • Villain-Based Franchise: The comic jumps through various time periods, but Constanta is ever present.
  • Weird Historical War: Rumanian vampire soldiers participate in World War II, at first on the German side, then against them when Rumania switches sides in 1944. Corporal Cringu mentions how his master has fought in many different wars throughout the centuries, including the Tartar invasions and the Ottoman wars. 1812 is set during the Napoleonic Wars and Fiends Of The Western Front takes place during World War I.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In Stalingrad, Constanta personally tears the throat out of a little girl who had been sent to spy on them.
  • You Can't Kill What's Already Dead: Constanta and his fellow vampires use their status as living dead to partake in numerous wars in search of prey, since most regular weapons are incapable of harming them or even slowing them down.