Review – Dark Blood #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Latoya Morgan
Artwork: Walt Barna
Colours: A.H.G.
Letters: Andworld Design
Release Date: 21st July 2021

There is a lot to like here. We have an engaging protagonist, an interesting hook, and some banging art and layouts. Flipping between the present (albeit the ‘present’ of the 1950s) and ten years prior, we are introduced to the concept of some point in time known as The Variance. What, or who, this Variance is we don’t exactly know, but by smacking this front and centre, ok top left if you want to be pedantic, on the opening panel we know its going to be a key feature. I also love what could be meta level misdirection with the opening words, “Most things are never what they seem.”

Avery Aldridge, or Double A, a black WWII veteran and diner employee, leaves work for the evening and is tailed by a threatening suited figure. Not quite tailored or sharp looking enough to be the stereotypical G-Man, we could be thinking goon at this point but then, as we covered above, most things aren’t as they seem. I can’t speak to the layered issues at play here but I’m sure most readers will have been in the situation of feeling like they were being followed. That threat and pervasive menace, even if only imagined, is wonderfully evoked here. The empty streets and footsteps. What struck me on a second read here was the lack of any onomatopoeia. I was sure there was the clump of boots on pavement or splash of puddles, but no. As I say, wonderful evocation.

From here we flip back and forth ten years prior to Double A as a fighter pilot in the heat of battle with things not looking good by any stretch. I enjoyed the storytelling aspect here of building up to an event with breaks to prevent the full tale being revealed. Those little key moments where our brain fills in detail, but perhaps erroneously. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, but by the climax of the issue we are left wondering just what we’ve seen. Super-powers? Magic? Aliens? Regardless of the source, I’m still intrigued by the term Variance…

The team have produced a polished debut issue here and as I said, there’s a lot to like. The art direction and lettering are good with some fantastic emotive expression work, not to mention the fighter plane panes. Where I think things didn’t quite mesh is with the overall pacing. I’m not sure I can place a finger on it but I wonder if it plays into the arc as a whole. I’m somewhat hypocritical in that I want to have some mystery but also in that I would have liked more reveal here; a very tough balance. Either way, one worth picking up.


The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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