Publisher: Image Comics
Story/Creator: Christian Ward
Art/Creator: Patric Reynolds
Colours: Heather Moore
Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Release Date: 27th April 2022
If the intent of Blood Stained Teeth was to leave a greasy smear of a memory, then I for one am all for it. In a world much like our own, vampires exist. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that two types of vampires exist. One, the Born, as the true lord of the night; shadowy creatures with great power and influence. The other, Sips, are those afflicted with the condition, having been turned by the Born. These Sips are considered dangerous, often vicious and insatiable killers, and are therefore forbidden by the First Born. “This is the story of those Sips and the Vampire who made them.”
This is no Underworld or Blade. Whilst there’s plenty of action and violence to be had here – this is definitely not an all age appropriate read – Blood Stained Teeth oozes with the flair and style that comes to mind when I think of the likes of early Hellblazer. For all the trippy kaleidoscopic application of colours here, it is horribly, wonderfully dark.
Atticus Sloane, what must surely be an assumed name that should feel cringey but works, is a deviant for hire. A member, albeit pariah, of an elite cabal of literal social predators who, for the right price, can grant the gift of immortality. Why work hard in your eternal nights to accumulate wealth when you can simply take it from the rich and desperate?
The trouble of course with any secret society or conspiracy is that when it grows too big, it has a tendency to want to implode. Blood Stained Teeth then is the fallout of what happens when a reprobate amongst monsters is forced to deal with their actions or suffer the most final of consequences. Without giving too much away, the thought that Sloane’s biggest weakness might be that he isn’t as much a monster as we think tickles. Yeah yeah, the redeemable anti-hero is a tired trope and all, but if this debut issue is anything to go by, it has the potential to be cited as a go-to example.
The creative team have crafted a truly remarkable comic here which manages to pull at conflicting threads to weave a grimy comfort blanket. Ward’s story, with Otsmane-Elhaou’s letters, is always snappy and conversational. There are obviously points of verbosity, but given that these are delivered by hoity-toity vampiric elders it’s all not only excusable but welcomed.
Lathered on top of this story is sumptuous panel after sumptuous panel. Reynolds’ lines alone could have been impactful and memorable enough, but Moore’s colours really knocked this out of the park for me. Whether it’s the recreation and nods to the likes of Nosferatu in the opening or the washed-out neon of a depraved city and its inhabitants, everything here calls out ‘pay attention to me!’
It looks great, reads great, and leaves you wanting more. Blood Stained Teeth has everything I want in a comic and as we’re talking about vampires with some tongue-in-cheek references I feel duty bound to say its love at first bite!
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster