Varnae served in the Cult of the Darkholders under Thulsa Doom. Injured due to the actions of King Kull of Valusia, a dying Varnae was transformed into a vampire by sorcerers of pre-Cataclysmic Atlantis. He allegedly was the last survivor among the vampires created in Atlantis before the Great Cataclysm, and ruled over Earth's vampires until 1459. Over the years, Varnae would face Conan, Red Sonja, Zula and Thor. Tired of his ages-long existence, Varnae chose Dracula as his successor as lord of Earth's vampires, and imparted much of his supernatural power to him by forcing Dracula to drink his blood. Varnae then committed suicide by exposing himself to direct sunlight.
However, years later, Marie LaVeau, desperate for vampire blood, had kidnapped Dr. Strange's friend, Morgana Blessing, and his brother Victor, and was holding them in a mansion outside New Orleans. She had put up magical shields which prevented entry to the house and demanded that Dr. Strange hand over the "Vampiric Verses," a spell from the Book of the Vishanti. The Book of the Vishanti is the "white magic" counterpart to the Darkhold, and as such, for every spell within the Book of Sins, there is an antithesis within the Book of the Vishanti. Since the Montesi Formula had originated in the Darkhold, the spell to create vampires was contained within the Book of the Vishanti. Strange was about to deliver the spell-page to LaVeau when reason reasserted itself and he forever banished the page from the earth plane.
LaVeau, possessing the Darkhold, invoked a spell contained within for resurrecting the Lord of the Vampires. When the incantation was completed, she prepared to sacrifice Morgana Blessing as the touchstone, but Brother Voodoo's servant, Bambu, jumped in the way and was himself slain. His corpse rose, transforming itself into the reborn Varnae. Varnae scoffed at LaVeau's offer of an alliance, and attempted to feast on Blessing, but was confronted by Dr. Strange. The Sorcerer Supreme and the Lord of the Vampires battled, Varnae changing shape and revealing he had formerly sought to be Sorcerer Supreme before he became a vampire. Strange cast an "incantation of oblivion" on Varnae, making the undead mage relive his oblivion of five centuries. Embracing (un)life again, Varnae fled, claiming with Strange he finally had a reason to live, a worthy foe.
Powers and Abilities
Varnae possessed a variety of superhuman attributes common to vampires. However, many of these powers were much higher than that of any other vampire, with the possible exception of Dracula. Varnae has the ability to transform others into vampires by draining them of enough of their blood to cause their physical death. During the process, an unknown enzyme in Varnae's saliva would enter the body and transform the remaining blood into a liquid called Ichor. As a result, an individual would rise from this death-like state after a period of 3 days.
Varnae possessed superhuman strength greater than that of any other known vampire and was capable of lifting approximately seven tons. Despite his great size, Varnae could run and move at speeds greater than even the finest human athlete. Varnae's musculature generated less fatigue toxins during physical activity than the musculature of a human being. He could exert himself at peak capacity for several hours before fatigue began to impair him. Varnae's agility, balance, and bodily coordination were enhanced to levels beyond the natural physical limits of even the finest human athlete. Varnae's reaction time was enhanced to a level beyond the natural physical limits of even the finest human athlete.
As long as Varnae ingested fresh blood on a regular basis, he was functionally immortal in the sense that he was immune to aging and all known Earthly diseases and infections. If injured, Varnae was capable of rapidly healing damaged tissue sustained from mild to moderate injuries much faster than an ordinary human. Injuries such as severe burns and lacerations healed completely within a few hours. He was, however, incapable of regenerating missing limbs or organs. Varnae was capable of mentally enslaving most ordinary humans by maintaining eye contact with them for only a few seconds. However, exceptionally strong willed individuals could fight the effects of his hypnotism.
Varnae was capable of communicating and even mentally controlling any other vampire, with the exception of Dracula, even across great distances. Varnae's hold was particularly strong over other vampires that he himself had been responsible for creating. Varnae could also use his telepathy to mentally communicate with or control certain animals, such as bats or wolves. Varnae was capable of altering his appearance to variable degrees, although he seldom used this ability. He was capable of transforming himself into a giant bat, wolf, or assume the form of mist. Varnae was also capable of altering his height and weight to an unknown degree. However, he was capable of reaching a height of at least 25 feet.