"Blood Brothers" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally published as Blood Brothers #1 - #3
Written by Mike Gagerman and Andrew Waller
Illustrated by Evan Shaner
2013, 82 Pages
Trade Paperback published on March 19th, 2014
Nick and Tree have been friends forever. They have the perfect bromance. They're roommates. They work together. They drink blood together. Wait. What? That friends forever thing is the real deal as these two dudes are vampires. That's the idea behind Blood Brothers; a buddy comedy with vampires. They've been hanging out for a thousand years, causing shenanigans across history including having an orgy with Michelangelo as he painted the Sistine Chapel and investing poorly in helium with the Hindenburg. It's a simple concept but one that works so well because Nick and Tree are very likable characters. You're with them from their first appearance, like you've been best friends with them for years. In classic buddy comedy fashion, a wrench is thrown into the works in the form of a woman and Nick is about to break the cardinal bff code of bros before hoes. He is ready to settle down and put his days as a swinging bachelor behind him because he’s fallen in love and is ready to throw all this fun away for a woman. That's just a bit more complicated as he's a vampire and she's a human.
Meanwhile, a cancer-stricken casino magnate is partnering with an apocalypse-crazed vampire to live forever. Their plan pulls in Nick as he's a descendent of an ancient and powerful vampire who could control the minds of others. He obviously has some issues with this. What follows is a fun, yet deadly battle as Nick and Tree try to prevent the total destruction of mankind while also saving the former's relationship.
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Authors Mike Gagerman and Andrew Waller have put a new little spin on the vampire mythos with this comic. Instead of going through a trial to get a soul or something like that, it's possible for a vampire to turn back to human. The process involves said bloodsucker's maker.
Blood Brothers features a now familiar trope within television shows, which is the quick cutaway. Family Guy and Scrubs perfected this technique in which someone would reference a bizarre situation and then they would cut to a version of it. “Like that time I met David Hasselhoff.” I didn't think this could work in a comic, but artist Evan Shaner makes it work very well. It's the same setup but then the next panel is showing said event. Early on Tree tries to defends his business decisions. We're then shown a panel where he's selling Monet paintings on the street for absinthe money. It's a quick gag that instantly pays off.
Speaking of which, the humor in the book is spot on. This could have become very corny but it never feels that way. The laughs are genuine. That has to do with the dynamic between the two main characters and how easy it is to relate to them right away. They talk just like you might with a few of your buddies. It's natural and never forced. They also fit a classic comedy duo setup of the straight man (Nick) and the funny man (Tree). The story plays to each of their strengths. Nick is serious about everything, even violence. He gets hit in the face with a board with a nail in it. His response is “That was a dick move. Now I have a nail in my skull.” Meanwhile, Tree is wacky and carefree, taking time to put down the board-wielding man for his unibrow before knocking him out.
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Getting back to the artwork, Shaner has a great overall design throughout the comic. He puts enough into each character that you can get a good idea of their personality just by looking at them. Tree is unkempt with a t-shirt and scruffy beard while Nick is literally buttoned up in a flannel shirt. Shaner also went the True Blood route in terms of vampires, meaning they just pop their fangs out instead of doing a furrowed brow transformation like in Buffy. It's a good choice as that might have distracted from the rest of the comic.
Blood Brothers is a downright fun comic. The stakes (DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?! HAR HAR!) are high, but it never feels like things are out of control because you're along for the ride with Nick and Tree. I could easily see this turned into a feature film. It would work so well, as it's a smart and funny take on the vampire genre. Get on that, Hollywood.
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