"Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep" Graphic Novel Review
Written by Ryan Noble
Published by Titan Comics
Written by Aleš Kot
Illustrated by Piotr Kowalski’
Coloured by Brad Simpson
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
2018, 110 pages
Graphic Novel released on 12 September 2018 (print) and 17 October 2018 (digital)
I reviewed issue one of the Bloodborne comic back in February, giving it a solid 4/5 for its depiction of the deadly, gothic world we all know as Old Yharnam. Fast forward to October and I now have the full graphic novel, aptly titled The Death of Sleep. Come and join me on the hunt.
In The Death of Sleep, the Hunter we met in issue one is looking for the answers to many questions. Will this war ever end? What is its purpose? Is the hunt my only reason for being?
Despite not knowing the answers, they – because their gender is never revealed, and their androgynous face is only shown once – forge on, relishing in the hunt when they find it, or sometimes when it finds them. As in the first issue, the combination of skills used to create each page keeps the momentum driving forward with aim, even when it feels like the Hunter has no real end goal in mind.
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Aleš Kot’s writing pushes the Hunter forward with endless questions, pulling in creatures and characters that players will recognise from the game, along with an ongoing sense of déjà vu. This makes complete sense given that one of the game’s biggest features is the trial-and-error method of fighting, dying, and fighting again.
This journey also gives life to the mystery surrounding Hunters and their purpose for being, shown using the protagonist’s inner monologue, which litters the pages whenever they aren’t fighting. Understandably for a Hunter, fighting brings clarity; a much-needed break from the questions that plague them.
Along with these questions, the story itself is also pushed forward with a mixture of Piotr Kowalski’s art and Brad Simpson’s colouring, strengthened further by the authentically gothic lettering of Aditya Bidikar. Together, they work to create a world that’s often vast and varied, ghoulish and gory, but also almost dreamy and out of reach. This feels to me like a reflection of the Hunter’s state of mind, floating from one place to the next, one question to the next, until they find a place they feel complete.
For now, the only thing they can do is head onwards with their newest companion, a child known as a Paleblood, believed to be the answer to ending the fighting for good. The child’s very existence raises more questions, but that’s part of the fun, too, and one of the parts I’m most interested in finding more about in future comics.
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As you’d expect, though, as with any story told in the world of Bloodborne, it won’t be easy.
A terrifying creature of monstrous form and lethality stalks them from Old Yharnam and out into the wilderness, from the woods, through the desert, and to the ruins of a cathedral, where they decide to make their stand. It’s tense for protagonist and reader knowing that this creature is hot on their heels, and I love every panel where its skulking mass is present.
The Death of Sleep graphic novel feels like Bloodborne. It’s dark, unforgiving, and sets itself in a world that is inherently vague, but intriguing. It cleverly takes some key features from the game itself, such a respawning after death and the ability to return to specific areas via lantern portals, and weaves them into its story in a way that feels natural. I now want to play the game again. As someone who finds the game infuriating and has already owned and sold it twice, that says it all.
Anyone who loves Bloodborne, or loves to hate Bloodborne and just enjoys the world and lore surrounding the game, you need this graphic novel.