"Neal Adams' Blood" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written and Illustrated by Neal Adams
Colored by Moose Baumann
2016, 96 Pages
Trade Paperback released on April 13th, 2016
Jorge Maslow, aka Blood, patrols the streets of his city with an iron fist. He's a one man army ready to take down the criminal underbelly that's been corrupting his town. Fortunately for him, he's basically immortal thanks to some sort of mysterious alien creature. He's not alone in this quest. The local gang has some sort of affiliation with the Knights Templar. There's a huge demon thing for some reason. Also, scientists.
The bulk of Neal Adams' Blood deals with the title character walking into a trap set by the mob. They're sick of him ruining their plans, so they've kidnapped Blood's pal, Lionel, who is a little...touched. He babbles on and on about everything and nothing, which brings the ire of the gangsters down on him with fist after fist. Blood is smarter than these ne'er-do-wells and works to get the drop on them. Then a demon shows up. I have no idea why, but that happens too.
In between all this action, we're treated to page after page of exposition. This trade paperback is less than a hundred pages, and there is just so much text. Everyone decides to wax poetic about alien races, the Knights Templar, and other assorted aspects of history. Adams weaves his story through events dating back to hundreds of years. It's an impressive feat, however it's presented in a very dry manner, like an illustrated social studies textbook.
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Adams certainly knows a thing or two about artwork. The man is a legend in the industry. There are some amazing designs included in these pages with some great, cinematic style shots. The close-ups on Lionel's battered face stand out early on. You can feel the pain as the blood flows all over him while his solemn eyes stare innocently at the reader.
The aforementioned demon is something to behold. It has a number of heads, each more ugly than the last, sitting atop a glowing, translucent body, revealing a dark skeleton within. It's got robotic hands and feet that give it an otherworldly look. Moose Baumann's colors really pop on this monster. During the climactic battle between it and Blood, there's a large, awesome panel that shows this being in all its glory.
Adams utilizes some effects to try to capture motion throughout Blood. This is nothing new in comics, but the way he went about it is unique. Usually when you see a panel with a person performing an action, such as moving their arm up over their head, you'd see a faded version of their arm below and then a clearer version of it above. Adams has solid versions of everything. The result is shots that look like people have six arms or two heads. This might work better in a motion comic (which Adams has a preview of on his website), however, it doesn't translate well to the static page.
The last twenty or so pages deal with a completely different story with what looks like vampires trying to steal a piece of technology from a handful of scientists. It feels tacked on. Although Blood literally travels from one scene to the next, it's an entirely new set of circumstances and characters. It does lead a bit to the connection to Blood's mysterious alien partner that's riding shotgun in his body.
This and many other interesting ideas are crammed into Blood. There is so much going on, but there's not a clear line connecting all these dots. Instead, the book comes across as bloated and exposition heavy. It's ten pounds of story in a five pound bag. Adams presents some great concepts that I definitely want to learn more about. Just when you start to dig deeper into one of them, he switches gears, jumping to a new part of the story that's not directly related, but still pretty cool. I'd be curious to see what this would be like if given some more room to grow – or if there were some aspects trimmed to make the story more streamlined.