Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Ales Kot
Artwork: Piotr Kowalski
Colours: Brad Simpson, Kevin Enhart
Lettering: Aditya Bidikar
Release Date: 12th September 2018
Ahead of the release of the second volume of Titan’s ongoing Bloodborne series – based on the acclaimed FromSoftware/Sony video game of the same name – I’ve decided to take a look back at volume 1 to see just how writer Ales Kot and artist Piotr Kowalski have gone about adapting the gruellingly difficult game to the printed page.
This four-part story “The Death of Sleep” introduces us to a nameless Hunter as he tries his best to navigate the horror-filled streets of Old Yharnam and find a way to escape the endless Night of the Hunt. His quest to “seek paleblood and transcend the hunt” sees him becoming the grudging protector of a young boy, but as the pair try to stay one step ahead of the terrifying monstrosity which is hunting them down, the bond between them gradually grows, leading to a particularly difficult decision which has to be made in the final issue.
Kot actually embraces the video game source material rather well, turning the constant respawning after death into a confusing existential crisis on the part of the main character, and packing the series will familiar supporting characters and settings from the game.
A familiarity with the world of Bloodborne will definitely serve the reader in good stead here, but this is still a story that can probably picked up and enjoyed by pretty much anyone. Kot makes sure everything is self-contained, and while the ending isn’t necessarily uplifting, there’s still a satisfying enough conclusion to the story – which probably makes sense, given the fact that the series was only originally planned for four issues before being upgraded to ‘ongoing’ status.
For me though, the thing really elevates the series is the striking, detailed artwork of Kowalski. Grotesque monstrosities and Gothic architecture are both rendered with requisite flair, and the pairing of Brad Simpson and Kevin Enhart manage to capture the familiar grimy, washed-out Bloodborne aesthetic in their colours. The action flows smoothly – a vital component of a comic like this – and Kowalski has no problems leaning into the over-the-top gore during certain sequences.
Kot’s bleakly poetic narration on the part of the Hunter makes the story feel like far more than a mindless hack-and-slash affair, an approach which speaks to the cerebral nature of the video game source material. Everything here has thought behind it and every move is considered, and while there are still definitely some grin-worthy moments of hunter-versus-monster combat along the way, there’s also an intelligence at play here which elevates Bloodborne above many other similar adaptations.
At the end of the day, this is certainly an enjoyable read, and quite possibly one of Titan’s best video game tie-ins to date. Kot and Kowalski work together well, and while it might be a bit of a tougher sell to people not familiar with the source material, there’s a lot of great stuff going on here both narratively and visually, and definitely more than enough to make me want to check out the second volume.