As we start the New Year, we have seen a number of new series launch from independent comics publishers. It’s nice to be able to jump onto a monthly series at the beginning, so here’s a quick look at three first issues that I enjoyed this week.
Bad Blood: It’s hard to believe anyone could come up with an original twist on a vampire story, but Jonathan Mayberry has done it. His hero is Trick, a college student who used to have a bright future as a football player but is now struggling with cancer. Artist Tyler Crook doesn’t whitewash this at all—Trick already looks like a dead man walking—but I particularly liked the way his best friend Kyle applies a sort of bro therapy, hauling Trick out of bed and talking smack about his disease, while also getting serious for a few minutes when the situation warrants it. Just when it starts to look like a Lifetime movie, though, Trick gets bitten by a vampire and—here comes the twist—thanks to the chemo he has been going through, his blood is toxic to the vampire. As the enraged vampire is consumed by the poison, he declares war on Trick and does his best to ruin his life, so Trick heads out to go vampire-hunting. I usually don’t like vampire stories, but I’m a fan of Tyler Crook (Petrograd) and his watercolor style and intriguing character designs give this comic a very different look from most vampire comics—his vampire looks nothing like Dracula. It’s a smart take on the vampire myth and well worth a look; you can check out a preview here. (Dark Horse Digital)
Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure: I mentioned this in this week’s best new comics post—it’s a steampunk story mashing up seven different pulp characters, but you don’t have to be a pulp fan to enjoy it. In fact, the first issue stars Vampirella and the Green Hornet, but those names are never mentioned—both appear as their alter egos, Madam Pendragon and Britt Reid. The series gets off to a leisurely start, allowing us to soak up a bit of the decadent faux-Victorian atmosphere, with a scene set in Madam Pendragon’s nightclub, where she and Reid are discussing the perfect martini. Suddenly a woman rushes in, pursued by a team of masked assassins. Madam Pendragon rescues her and tears the assassins apart with her bare hands in a spectacularly bloody fight sequence. When the attackers are unmasked, they all appear to be clones—they even have the same scar. On further investigation, we learn that the mystery woman is investigating the disappearance of her sister, and her quest has stirred up a dark conspiracy. The series is written by Bill Willingham (Fables), and the scripting is solid if a bit mannered at times. Artist Sergio Davila does a nice job with the characters and throws in a lot of steampunk touches, although, as Johanna Draper Carlson points out, he slips up on continuity in a few places. When Madam Pendragon rushes toward the assassins, for instance, she appears to shed all her clothes, but in the next scene she is wearing a complicated costume. Aside from that, it’s an enjoyable story for those who don’t mind willingly suspending their disbelief. (Available on comiXology and Dark Horse Digital)
Revelations: Here’s a good ol’ Vatican mystery, pitting a chain-smoking British detective against some sort of quasi-supernatural conspiracy. The detective, Charlie Northern, is a fan of books about space aliens and looks like he will be an interesting guy to follow around; the other characters are straight out of central casting. The story begins with a cardinal being impaled on a railing and some guy reciting Latin-ish mumbo-jumbo as he tries to stab him with a knife; it’s hard to decode visually, but once the story moves on, the pieces start to fall into place. Aside from that, the art is pretty nice, with strongly caricatured character designs signaling us not to take anything too seriously. Which is just as well. Despite some preposterous moments, it’s a good read, especially if you like religio-historical conspiracy thrillers like The DaVinci Code. (comiXology)