Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Blood Syndicate #1 Review

The Mean Streets Of Dakota City

Written by: Geoffrey Thorne
Art by: Juan Castro, ChrisCross
Colors by: Will Quintana
Cover art by: Dexter Soy
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: May 10, 2022
Blood Syndicate #1 follows Wise Son and Tech-9 as they return from active duty in the Middle East. However, their hometown is a very different place after superheroes have driven out the drug trade, and smaller gangs turn the streets into a war zone to fill the power vacuum.

Was It Good?

Whether or not this comic is considered good is strongly dependent on the readers' point of view. Thorne goes out of his way (way, way out of his way) to make Blood Syndicate #1 as authentic to the street life vibe of Dakota City as possible. 

On the one hand, you greatly appreciate how much work Thorne put into creating an authentic experience for the everyday people living their lives in this setting. But, on the other hand, the copious amounts of slang and custom grammar sometimes made this comic an impenetrable reading experience. In short, there are whole panels where you could get completely lost trying to understand what the characters were saying unless you were explicitly familiar with their way of speaking. It's almost like trying to decipher a different language in a few spots.

And there's the tradeoff. How far do you go to be authentic before you go so far that you block out a subset of readers? We shall see how well it plays out in future issues.

The plot is fairly straightforward. A pair of soldiers return home from conflicts in the Middle East to discover that Milestone heroes such as Rocket and Icon have cleaned up the streets from major gang threats. But unfortunately, the smaller gangs don't get superhero attention, and the opportunity is ripe for a little fish to grow into a bigger pond by increasing gang skirmishes.

The big bad of the issue is a superpowered gang leader who goes by the handle Holocaust. The issue concludes with Tech-9 getting a local tour from his friend Carlos aka Fade. When Carlos is concerned about escalating gang violence, he works to create a gathering place for non-powered people to socialize in peace. But, unfortunately, one of the Holocaust's lieutenants shows up to disrupt the peace in his boss's name.

Again, it's good if you're all about the life as Thorne lays it out, and you can wade through the sometimes impenetrable mix of slang and clipped language. However, if you want a simple, clean reading experience, you may find this first issue a mild struggle.

The art by Castro and ChrisCross is solid, but Quintana's coloring is the standout with excellent contour shading and textures.

Bits and Pieces:

Blood Syndicate #1 is a refreshed take on the origins of the Blood Syndicate, with homecoming soldiers learning their town has developed a power vacuum after Icon and Rocket cleared out the drug cartels. The art is above average, with excellent coloring for a solid visual experience, and the plot is pretty straightforward. Thorne puts enormous effort into making the dialog as authentic as possible, sometimes at the expense of accessibility and clarity.


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