”First off, that Black Hawk movie? It ain’t nothing like that over there. I mean, not all the time.”
The first lines of Blood Syndicate Season One #1 help set the tone for the first issue, as Rolando Texador recounts his military tour in Sadaqah. Writer Geoff Thorne is joined by original Blood Syndicate artist ChrisCross to reboot the franchise as part of the new Milestone line.
One of the major changes to this issue compared to the original Blood Syndicate #1 is the perspective. Whereas that book began through the eyes of reporter Rob Chaplik, Thorne and ChrisCross instead tell the story through the eyes of Rolando Texador and Hannibal White returning home from a tour in Sadaqah. The contrast is clear: Rolando and Hannibal are not strangers to Paris Island. They are not outsiders attempting to learn about this part of Dakota City or convey it to others. This is home.
The change in perspective also highlights the fact that one does not need to be familiar with the original series to start this one. These are new takes on the characters, and meeting them through their eyes makes for a far more intimate approach than the original series’ debut. It all comes back to the opening lines. Paris Island, like Sadaqah, isn’t a war zone all the time.
The art by ChrisCross, inker Juan Castro, and color artist Wil Quintana is superb. In particular, Quintana’s colors pop off the page, while also bringing an authenticity and life the various skin tones of he characters, something that is too often neglected in comic book art. ChrisCross’ line art is fantastic, especially the way he can capture the emotions of the human face. Characters are often drawn speaking and you can feel the faces on the pages move as they speak. Characters are lifelike and larger than life at the same time.
The art is also important in the way Paris Island is portrayed, especially in comparison to Sadaqah. Paris Island is rendered in warm colors, given a beauty that speaks to the warmth it gives the characters, even as they deal with some of the less desirable parts of living there. In contrast, Sadaqah is rendered as a stereotype, sandy browns, ambers and tans and no real signs of everyday people living life. As the story progresses, it becomes obvious that this is intentional. Rolando and Hannibal do not belong in Sadaqah. It is not their home. They are Rob Chaplik there.
The contrast between the Sadaqah and Paris Island makes the similarities ring more true. These are both war zones, and every war needs its soldiers. The decision to contrast wars abroad with wars at home is far from a new idea, but the execution here is strong enough to keep it from feeling bland. And the decision to focus on Rolando from his own perspective makes this storytelling decision a lot stronger. If there is one drawback to the approach, it’s that the pacing is a bit slow, as the issue focuses on Rolando meeting up with Carlos and getting reacquainted with Paris Island. This is, once again, intentional (those first lines again), but it feels like this book could have used a couple more pages to to really get readers excited for the next issue.
Still, Blood Syndicate: Season One #1 is a debut that will invite readers new and old into its world through its strong characterizations and fantastic artwork. This isn’t a perfect issue by any means, but it lays a strong foundation for Thorne and ChrisCross to build on and flesh out this new version of the Dakotaverse.
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