Chemo, vampires, football and a whole lot of blood, this comic is one of the most sinister, creative books I have ever read. Featuring a terrifying and surreal watercolor art style, Bad Blood #1 definitely has promise, but is it good?
Bad Blood #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
I don’t really know what promted me to review this issue, in all honesty, besides the fact that as many of the miniseries I’ve been following have been winding down I was in the market for a nice #1. I’ve never really been into the whole vampire craze, so this series could have been hit or miss for me. Perhaps it was the gorgeous art on the front cover that pulled me in, or the tragic synopsis that made me empathize with the characters before even meeting them. Whatever it was, this comic and I found each other, and I’m glad we did.
Trick is a high schooler with cancer, and it’s only a matter of months before he meets his maker. He was going to be a football star with hopes and dreams of getting a scholarship and making a career of the sport, but his dreams were dashed by a nasty disease. His best friend, Kyle, is the only one who still “hasn’t started a death watch..he’s too busy being real.” Kyle proves to be an awesome companion and supporting role.
Trick is sort of slogging through his days, sick and hopeless when he up and gets bitten by a vampire. It’s sort of a random occurrence and wasn’t foreshadowed at all but pretty much carried the plot. After the vampire is burned by the chemo in Trick’s blood, he goes after Kyle because Trick hurt his mouth so terribly. Although Trick survives his bite, Kyle is less lucky. Suddenly, the one with his whole future ahead of him dies and the one whose days are numbered lives on; how the tables have turned.
The story is engrossing and completely original, and doesn’t rely on its novelty to sell itself. The idea that a vampire would be turned off be the taste of chemo-tainted blood is very thoughtful and makes a lot of sense given that vampires exist in this reality. What made it even better was how little vampire action there actually was in this issue compared to how much vampire talk there was. It wasn’t all about blood suckers running rampant and tearing people apart, the story is mostly about the characters and how a small encounter with vampires changes everything.
Although this comic could very easily become a meaningless sobfest of self-pity and cheap heartache, Jonathan Maberry writes Trick in a way that makes us choose to sympathize with him instead of being obligated to. He is a loveable character and would be interesting to read about without his cancer and is enhanced when we understand how disease has changed his views of the world and life.
Needless to say, Trick is completely changed midway through the issue when Kyle dies. He becomes desperate, looking for anyone who will believe his story about seeing a vampire, and eventually finding no one. He is in all meanings of the word alone, with no allies or friends and an evil vampire targeting him, in addition to the threat of cancer looming down on him. It’s a tragedy that’s gone from bad to worse, and is in an incredible story to witness.
This creative team is making magic together, there are some panels of this comic that are so breathtaking they don’t even need words. Page 16 in particular: all in one page we see Trick calling the cops to report Kyle’s murder, standing over Kyle’s dead body, at Kyle’s funeral then again over Kyle’s grave all by himself. The power of this one page is so beautiful and is captured with only Trick’s face. He has a look of utter pity and confusion. “Why is this happening to me?” all of his features seem to scream.
Like I mentioned in my intro, the art of Bad Blood is incredible. I don’t think I have ever seen watercolors tell a story so beautifully. There is a wash to all of it that conveys the really dreary, desolate emotion. The art is terrifying in its colors and vibe, not in gruesome details. The vampires are expertly pictured and the scenery is gorgeous and mysterious.
- Awesome concept executed very well
- Art is drop-dead gorgeous
- Ending was very meh
Is It Good?
Bad Blood may have just moved up to my favorite Dark Horse mini, along with Never Ending. It has so much potential to be just a mind-blowing and extremely moving story about some great characters. I very much enjoyed this debut issue and would love to see things just get better from here.