Blade (born Eric Brooks) was born in a whorehouse in the Soho neighborhood of London, England in 1929. Eric's mother, Tara Brooks, was a prostitute at Madame Vanity's Brothel. When Tara experienced severe labor complications, a doctor was summoned who was in actuality Deacon Frost, a vampire who feasted on her during Eric's birth and killed her. However, this inadvertently passed along certain enzymes in his own blood to the infant. This resulted in Eric's quasi-vampiric abilities, including a greatly prolonged lifespan and the ability to sense supernatural creatures, as well as an immunity to complete vampirism. Brooks' fellow prostitutes drove off Frost before he could kill the infant as well.
Eric grew up living at Madame Vanity's, and at age nine, returning home from school one December, he saw an old man being attacked by three vampires. Eric helped the old man, who used a silver cane to kill the vampires and fight off the attackers. The man was Jamal Afari, a jazz trumpeter and vampire hunter who then moved into Madame Vanity's and trained the young Eric in both music and combat. Blade was soon able to defeat many of the weak, younger vampires that he and Afari found in abundance. Eric became an Olympic-level athlete and a formidable hand-to-hand combatant, with an expertise in edged weapons such as knives and daggers so notable that it earned him the nickname "Blade" among both his fellow hunters and the vampires they opposed, who began to fear the young hunter.
Blade's victories made him cocky. He joined a street gang, the Bloodshadows, headed by a much older and more powerful vampire than any Blade had met before, named Lamia. Blade barely defeated Lamia, and, in doing so, lost his girlfriend Glory. The tragedy of the experience left Blade more determined than ever to dedicate his life to the complete extermination of vampires.
Afari himself later fell prey to Dracula, the first occurrence in an ongoing battle between Dracula and Blade. Blade mercy-killed his mentor after Afari rose as a vampire, and tracked Dracula back to Europe, Asia Minor, and Asia, staking him many times, but never completely destroying him. In China, Blade joined Ogun Strong's vampire hunters, which included Azu, Orji, and Musenda. Together, they staked Dracula again. Dracula survived, and killed all the hunters except Blade and Musenda, who eventually retired from vampire hunting. Orji had created a lasting impression on Blade with his use of wooden daggers to combat vampires, leading to Blade adopting that weapon as his preferred arms. Consumed by grief for his fallen comrades, Blade resumed his quest alone.