I have to confess… I didn't expect to enjoy Blood Brothers or even plan to write a review of it. I picked up Blood Brothers #1 thinking "Hey, a new Dark Horse comic. This looks kind of lame. How does this stuff even get published … ?" But then I flipped through the first couple of pages. And I laughed. And I kept reading. And I kept laughing.
I was hooked by the scene where the two vampire brothers are hawking Monet paintings, and the following conversation takes place:
Any comic that can pull off art humor makes me happy. Or wry jokes about the Hindenburg crash. It made me think there might be more going on here than my first impression. The more I read, the more I was pulled into the story, and the more I found myself looking forward to the next page, and then the next issue. The whole concept of Blood Brothers is completely ludicrous. But for some reason, it works.
I'm not quite sure what to tell you about what kind of comic this is. The premise is like something someone would pitch for a bad '80s sitcom — two blue collar, slacker vampires out looking for pick-up work to make a little cash to by black market blood and pay their rent. They don't act like real vampires, and make fun of the "bitey” types. They've been around for a thousand years, but thanks to constant bad decisions and bad investments over history (see the Monet conversation above) they are broke.
See? Completely ludicrous. But it works.
Just like the writing, at first I thought the art was subpar. Evan Shaner's art is almost non-descript. It does a workmanlike job of carrying the story, without any flair or style. But then the more I read of the story, the more the art grew on me. Shaner's art carries the story without flair or style, which is exactly what is asked for this kind of comic. The whole slacker tone of the writing is found in the art as well, and it is a great fit.
The same goes for Dan Jackson's colors. I've never been a fan of Dan Jackson; I thought his colors on Conan: Road of Kings were flat and pushed too far into an "animated” style instead of a painterly style I thought the series deserved. But it works here. He still has those garish bursts of overpowering yellow, and he still applies color with big chunky swaths without gradation or edges, but it totally fits with Shaner's art style and the style of the comic.
I can't say Blood Brothers is a great comic — you have to take off your thinking cap for this one and not worry too much about why two vampires speak modern slang while hanging out with Genghis Khan, or how no one bats an eye at a black guy indulging in an orgy at the Vatican while Michelangelo paints overhead. But it has a stupid kind of humor mixed with clever wordplay that I was exactly in the mood for.
And then I flipped to the front of the book to write my review, and I saw the credits. Oh. Etan Cohen (of Tropic Thunder fame, not Ethan Coen of the Coen Brothers fame). Somehow that makes perfect sense.
Blood Brothers #1 drops 7/13/2013.
Zack Davisson is a freelance writer and life-long comics fan. He owned a comic shop in Seattle during the '90s, during which time he had the glorious (and unpaid) gig as pop-culture expert for NPR. He has lived in three countries, has degrees in Fine Art and Japanese Studies, and has been a contributing writer to magazines like Japanzine and Kansai Time-Out. He currently lives in Seattle, WA with his wife Miyuki. You can catch more of Zack's reviews on his blog Japan Reviewed or read his translations of Japanese ghost stories on Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai.