Welcome back to Fix It ‘Til It’s Broke!, where there is no such thing as a bad idea until fans react to it with complete apathy. I’ve got to say, dear reader, that even now, coming in at our third ever entry in this thing, I’m starting to get a little worried. I mean, how many bad reboots, retoolings and regurgitations are there really in American superhero comics? I often fear that I’m going to run out of material before the year is out, even with the once-a-week pace. Then, I remember the Bloodlines reboot…
…and I breathe a sigh of relief, knowing I’m not running out of material too soon.
For those of you unaware, Bloodlines was a line-wide crossover event DC Comics published in 1993. In it, aliens that look like a cross between a xenomorph and a horse invaded Earth to feed on the spinal fluid of humans. This left dozens of random people as “New Bloods”, giving them powers beyond those of mortal men. This event gave us such great characters as Hitman and….pretty much nobody else, as all the other New Bloods ended up fading into the DC ether. And there they would have remained until J.T. Krul decided to revive the name for a six issue miniseries this year.
In this new fangled reboot, the town of Pine Ridge (sister city to Rock Ridge) finds itself invaded by tiny parasitic aliens after a meteor strike. The invasion unleashes the horror of the Demon Deer™ on the unsuspecting town….
…and also grants several people superpowers. Our main characters consist of revamped versions of:
- Loose Cannon: teenage ALS sufferer Eddie Walker (go to hell, comic), now is able to turn into a blue version of the Hulk
- Sparx: Dana; black girl who can’t shut up for the first two issue we see her, given electrical powers
- Geist: boy genius Albert (seriously, go to hell, comic) with the power to become invisible
- Gunfire: Blake; African-American cop who’s given the power of blowing things up
- Razor Sharp: Hayley; mechanic and girlfriend of Blake, who can grow spikes and stabbing weapons out of her body
- Duncan: a normal human who’s basically Morgan from The Walking Dead.
Together they must stop this alien invasion and defeat evils such as an evil priest with mind control power, the Alien queen mother of the parasites and…
…that’s it. Blake gets his mind possessed by the parasites and in then killed (because the book is functioning on the “only one black male allowed to live” rule of The Walking Dead) and there’s a teaser involving a re-imagined Terrorsmith as an evil little girl (ah, the evil little girl; a cliché almost as shop-worn as an evil priest) and dear God may we please not have more of this.
Now, I will admit this upfront: I only skimmed issues 4-6 of this series, so maybe, just maybe, I missed something that would make this flaming pile worth it all. I sincerely doubt this, though.
The writing, while not bad per se, is definitely on the bland to the point of flavorless side. J.T. Krul stated in interviews that he was going for a horror style in a similar vein as John Carpenter’s The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Problem is, the entire enterprise comes off less like those works than as a cheap imitation, a Xerox of a Xerox resulting in a comic that feels less its own story and more an Asylum mockbuster. Krul leans on some of the most overused horror tropes (evil little girl, evil priest, aliens slowly taking control of people’s minds and bodies, teenagers partying in the wood until something starts going on a killing spree, ect.) that half of the comic feels like a bad horror movie.
The other half feels more like a CW show with the gore slightly amped up. Some of that comes down to the art of V Ken Marion, whose obviously channeling the late Michael Turner in his style. Sadly, this all comes off to making everyone and everything seem a bit generic looking at times, especially in the faces. Even things like the Demon Deer™ and a multi-limbed humanoid grotesque in issue four (one of the few things that comes off as genuinely creepy in the series) all have a “Hey, haven’t I seen this in like, Resident Evil or something?” feel to them.
The dialogue and characterization though is what really put a stake in this series’ heart. Everyone comes off as the kind of generic protagonist you’d find on any network TV drama. Even Eddie, the one that gets the most time and effort put into him, never really comes across as anything other than “broody teenager”, even though he has something to legitimately brood about! Everybody else comes of a various flavors of Wonder Bread, save for Dana. She goes from annoying to severely bland in three issues. Because that’s development, right?
Before we end, I just gotta ask: who the hell was this $#!@ made for? Who seriously wanted a revamped Bloodlines cast, other than J.T. Krul? Who wanted this bland, non-scary, unentertaining dreck that feels like it’s been fed through several committees to go on the sales rack? The amount of people who’re nostalgic for the old ’93 crossover can’t be that numerous. So was it made to appeal to younger audiences? If that’s the case, there are plenty of movies TV shows and other comics that could provide any one of the things Bloodlines is trying to sell and do it better. So, I ask again, who was this made for?
But those are question I think will never be answered. Suffice it to say, Bloodlines (2016) is an attempted revamping of something that was best left to a bygone age.