Written by JT Krul
Art by V. Ken Marion, Sean Parsons, and Andrew Dalhouse
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: April 6, 2016
A meteor crashes in the forest preserve outside the burbs and creates a monster in its wake — a monster that’s about to terrorize the local teenagers at their Friday night beer bash. The only thing is, the monster isn’t the only thing mutating.
Months ago, when Bloodlines was first announced, I actually thought it was a joke. Not April 1, admittedly, but it was one of those days when I’d been offline most of the afternoon and came back to tweets about “What’s next? Armageddon 2001?”
Because the first time around, way back in 1993, Bloodlines was the event that almost got me to stop collecting comics. It was so terribly constructed, so loosely strung together as an event, they couldn’t even dedicate monthly issues to it. It had to be relegated to overpriced annuals that had long stopped being a place for important story to commence or conclude by that point.
So, to have this lackluster concept and title pop back up in 2016 was certainly worth an eyebrow raise. My expectations were exceedingly low as a result.
It turns out, the book didn’t even scrape at my expectations. It’s far worse a production than I could have dreamed.
From trite plot and dialogue to retro-90s Image house-style art, Bloodlines #1 is pretty much every cliche I could imagine about the fanboy wank that populated comics in the years I was barely hanging on to my lifelong hobby. And unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be self-aware enough to count as parody. That would be something, at least.
Krul’s treatment of teenagers in this facsimile of a B-movie horror plot is so anachronistic by comparison to the literally dozens of comics published today featuring high schoolers, particularly in its treatment of women. It seems like the writer went out of his way to insert misogynistic dialogue and behavior that has no bearing on the plot or main characters no less than three times in the space of six pages. Teenage boys passing around lurid phone images of a female classmate. Cops talking about getting “the deep freeze,” i.e. a withholding of sex from one of their girlfriend.
And perhaps the most odd and unnecessary is the panel framing out of a mother’s ass as she pumped gas and gets stared at by the gas station attendant, who serves no other purpose but to leer. Whether Krul scripted that break-out or artist V. Ken Marion chose to break it in that particular fashion is up for grabs. But either way, it casts a sexist pall on a book that already had little going for it. Marion’s pedigree as an Aspen Studios alum is definitely not in question as every female character in the book, from mother to child, has the same hourglass figure.
[The book’s first central protagonist, Eddie (“Loose Cannon”), is also a bit of a concern in a medium that so frequently washes away disability. I’ll leave that analysis to someone who can speak to representation of disability more astutely than I. Suffice to say, seeing a disability magically transformed away by mutation the same week we see one so central to the story in another DC title (Batgirl #50) is disheartening, at best.]
The entire issue is drawn in a style that makes no character stand out as important, highlights no cultural variety or bodily diversity, and frankly, just feels like a book I would have tossed back on the shelf twenty years ago. And with a story that doesn’t quite make sense (the deer was exposed to a meteor and mutated, but Eddie just spontaneously did so without exposure?), there’s hardly any reason to bother picking it back up.
With DC Comics’ Rebirth event on the very near horizon, I question the choice of publishing this title as executed, especially when solicits make it clear that SO many books of MUCH higher caliber have already been doomed to cancellation. Bloodlines #1 reads like the type of vapid fanboy wank that almost drove me out of comics as a teenager, and its presence in the publishing line at this moment is the first major fear I’ve had about DC’s upcoming “new” direction since their WonderCon announcements. I want to believe that this is an aberration and not an omen for the day DC returns to servicing its “loyal longbox readers.” Enough of the creators involved in that movement give me hope for the former. But I can’t say I’m not far more skeptical after this Wednesday of what’s to come.
The Verdict: 2.0/10