Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bloodlines #2 Review and **SPOILERS**


Why You Should Hire a Licensed Clown or Magician for Your Child’s Birthday Party

Written By: J.T. Krul
Art By: V. Ken Marion, Sean Parsons, Andrew Dalhouse & Sotocolor
Letters By: Sal Cipriano
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: May 4, 2016


Who came up with the logo for this series? That splattered “S” at the end really bugs me. For one thing, it makes the title look like BLOODLINE3 at a glance. For another thing, I don’t really get its purpose. I mean, yeah I get that it’s supposed to be like a splotch of blood, which is admittedly very eXtreme, but it gives the impression that the book was going along with the title BLOODLINE until someone realized that it actually dealt with people from different familial backgrounds and pluralized it at the last minute. I think the logo would have been more striking and immediately readable had it just used the same font for the last letter as is used for the rest of the word. Would that turn anyone off to the comic book? Probably not, it would be their preconceived notions and assuming it was tethered to a twenty year-old comic book event that would do that. Well, allow me to either dispel or bolster those notions! Which will it be? You’ll have to read on to find out!

Explain It!

This issue opens much as the first one did, with an overview of the sleepy Northwestern town of Pine Ridge, where the inhabitants are actually sleeping for the most part. This time, however, we follow the weird comet that was seen in the beginning of the first issue, which ultimately landed and turned a deer into a slavering monster.  Our comet’s ass view allows us to notice that the projectile is dropping little metal leech things that look a little like the Sharkticons from my old Transformers days, and these buggers float into the windows of several sleeping citizens and presumably give them each a big smooch or hides in their ears and whispers ego-boosting mantras to them. Don’t let those egos get too boosted, though, because we’re next off to a funeral for that poor Graham, friend of handicapped teen Eddie, who was trampled and chomped to death by that very same monster deer I mentioned a few sentences ago. See? No wasted information here, I tell you what. It’s going to be tough to work the Sharkticons back into this review later on, but I’ll make it work. So Eddie is feeling pretty shitty about his popular friend being dead, particularly since he only became a target of the deer beast because he lingered to help Eddie out. And then Eddie hulked out into a big blue monster and killed the deer—look, if you want to cheat and find out what happened last issue, just read my prior review. Anyway, members of the Pine Ridge High School football team converge on Eddie after the funeral and let him know they blame him for Graham’s death because they are the biggest assholes in the universe. Despite his disability, Eddie is able to run away to a tree, where he notices his hands have turned blue! My mom said that would happen to me if I didn’t stop abusing myself, but it looks like no one told Eddie. He wills his hands back to normal and collapses against a tree, wracked with the need to masturbate, probably.

After this, it’s sort of like last issue, with little vignettes of all the characters we met before, except this time they are manifesting weird and spooky powers. First up is Dana, the very annoying high school student who told us all about herself by way of vlogging for no obvious reason—well now I do understand, she is an actual or budding YouTube star, something all kids seem to want to be these days. I didn’t think of that because I am older than dirt, but here we see her doing a makeup tutorial and addressing a hypothetical audience more, so it’s clear this persona is for public consumption. She even drops the persona for a moment to explain how she is too bummed by Graham’s death to apply lip gloss, so she goes to shut off her webcam and gets some kind of shock that turns her all blue and…I think she gets sucked into the computer? I hope her story becomes like Tron in every way, except way bloodier. Then we meet up with auto mechanical and piercing fanatic Haley, who is drowning her meanface at a crappy bar. Some guy tries hitting on her and touches her shoulder, when a giant piercing knife (a shoulder blade, perhaps? I slay me) whips out and skewers him right through the hand. On to the pig sty apartment of Officer Blake, who is strolling around texting his ex-girlfriend Haley. This frustrates him so the bottle of beer he’s holding ignites spontaneously and becomes a bomb? There’s a power you didn’t see in Dial H for Hero. Then we come to our next-to-last memorable character from the last issue: the little irredeemable bitch Faith. She’s at a dumb birthday party for dummies and everything is dumb and she don’t wanna play with dumb kids, so when everyone goes inside for cupcakes, Faith stays outside and opens Alison’s Easy Bakin’ Oven, which I’m pretty sure is a marijuana drying machine. Alison’s brother tries to stop Faith, so…okay this gets a little brutal, guys, but Alison creates some kind of purple monster construct that kills every single person, adult and child, at the party. All while Faith plays with her Easy Bakin Oven. One of the creepiest scenes I have read in a comic book for a little while.

That night, Eddie wakes from a bad dream and decides it’s time to take a little stroll, even though strolling is something he really can’t do anymore. But hey, he has proved handicapable, so I suppose it’s fine for him to be crutching around at the wee hours of the night. Are there any cops in Pine Ridge? Not even security guards? Eddie eventually gets to the water tower, and remembers a time Graham dared him to go down some dangerous hill on his skateboard—Graham won’t do it, he says, because he’s not a “shredder.” So I guess this conversation took place in 1987. Now that Eddie’s got Blue Hulk abilities, he decides to give it a shot, and immediately “wipes out” on his skateboard and gets “major road rash” while the “Iran-Contra Affair” plays out in Washington, DC, presumably. As his body gets mangled by pavement, Eddie turns into his sexy blue self, then sees his skateboard hovering towards him! It’s actually being held by super nerd Albert, who becomes visible and suggests that he and Eddie have a talk. Back to the crime scene that was Alison’s birthday party, Officer Blake and his partner No One Cares What His Name Is are investigating the grisly scene, though Blake admits he feels numb to it all. He wonders aloud why such a horrific thing would happen, when into the scene walks Duncan, who…oh my god guys, I normally don’t like to show something revealed on the last page, but this time I have to:
"Blood just sort of appears when I show up."
LOOK AT THIS GUY. He could break your collarbone just by grimacing at it for too long. I bet those belt pouches are stuffed to capacity with the teeth of his enemies. This guy is so 90s bad-ass, with his swords and guns and bulging thighs and knife holster, I almost want him to break my nose. He issues a dire warning about the end of the world, because duh that’s what guys like this say when they walk into the scene. Did you think he was going to ask where the library is?

This issue was a lot of fun, but essentially a thematic rehash of the first one, except with powers. I suppose there are worse ways to structure a story, but woe be to the Johnny-come-lately who couldn’t find Bloodlines #1 (though they shouldn’t have had a problem) and decided to jump on with Bloodlines #2. V. Ken Marino does a spectacular job emulating the eXtreme era of comics, though the plotting is updated to be more in accord with today’s style. He makes an interesting choice in depicting the mass murder at that kid’s birthday party, both showing their terror while not showing their innards. I suppose it could have been gorier, and in 1993 it probably would have been. But I do appreciate that he didn’t go all the way “there” for that scene. It was disturbing enough as is.

Bits and Pieces:

There are a lot of cool scenes, but not a ton of forward motion in the story as this issue plays out like a redux of the first issue, with different maimings and eviscerations. There's a particularly disturbing scene that could have been more disturbing, but V. Ken Marion went a more tasteful route and the book is better for it. I did enjoy the issue, and I think if you enjoyed the first issue then you should follow suit with this. The fact that it was so similar to the first issue, at least in pacing and theme, however, did affect my appreciation for this comic.


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