Review – Bad Blood #5 (Dark Horse)

Dark Horse
Writer: Jonathan Maberry
Artist: Tyler Crook
Release Date: 7th May 2014

It’s been quite a ride for chemo patient Trick and his new friend Lolly. They’ve discovered the existence of vampires and in their quest to destroy these creatures they’ve grown and healed together. Trick’s cancer is in remission, Lolly has kicked the Horse and under the tutelage of mysterious vampire hunter Jonas Vale they’ve started to develop the skills necessary to kill creatures of the night. However with the revelation that their mentor was bit more ‘vampire’ than ‘vampire-hunter’ Trick and Lolly find themselves in a hopeless situation. Bleak and affecting, this issue of Bad Blood gives our heroes the finale they deserve, as well as the ending they were always heading towards.

As usual the artwork by Tyler Crook is sublime. Like grotesque gargoyles carved in polished marble, he finds beauty in the horrific. It’s truly a joy to behold. His character work is fantastic, with body language communicating just as much as words and thoughts. Likewise his composition of panels, with characters at times surrounded by inky blackness and at other times dazzling white, manages to subtly communicate the atmosphere. It’s fantastically economical storytelling, and on top of all that he’s also excellent at action, with fight scenes popping with energy.

Jonathan Maberry’s writing has been strong throughout this series, evoking an atmosphere of dread and despair without ever wallowing in the misery. He continues to match his own high standards with this final issue. His handling of the central characters is superb, regardless of the dire circumstances they may find themselves in Maberry never loses sight of the humanity of Trick and Lolly. These are characters who have faced down their demons, both literal and metaphorical, and have grown so much since their initial appearances as a consequence.

As well as a gripping story and well-observed characters, Maberry has crafted a vividly realised world, where vampires have existed for millennia, forming factions and houses which are constantly at war with one another. A sequence offering a potted history of vampire civilisation is fascinating and deepens the scope of story beyond just Trick and Lolly’s quest for revenge. However, all this backstory sucks some momentum from the issue, and for a couple of pages the comic is mainly characters monologuing at one another. It’s a minor quibble, the ideas are great, but with all this exposition the ending seems forced upon the reader quite suddenly. It’s effective, but isn’t given a lot of room to breathe.

A fine, blood soaked ending to an exquisite miniseries, Bad Blood #5 caps off things nicely. Hopefully Maberry and Crook can find some time to pair up again and further explore the unique and intriguing world they’ve so elegantly created.

Rating: 4/5.

The writer of this piece was: Joe Morrison
Joe is Freelance film journalist based in Glasgow.
You can also find Joe on Twitter.

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