"Blood Stained Teeth #1" Comic Review
Written by Ricardo Serrano Denis
Published by Image Comics
Written by Christian Ward
Illustrated by Patric Reynolds
Colored by Heather Moore
Lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
2022, 32 pages
Comic released on 27th April 2022
Vampires seem ripe for the social media treatment given how much they value position and power in the worlds they’re put in. Christian Ward and Patric Reynolds are well aware of this and it shows in their new comic Blood Stained Teeth, a story about social status, our addiction to it, and the violence that surrounds it.
Out of all the classic movie monsters, vamps might be the only ones to go lengths in establishing a kind of hierarchy among their ranks to determine which types deserve their place at the top and which deserve to be in the bottom. Blood Stained Teeth #1 keeps this in mind when coming up with its own version of the bloodsucker to craft a world that has accepted vampirism as the status quo while still trying to find out how to fit into it.
The story follows Atticus Sloane, a vampire that turns others into his kind for a price. He’s a classically cynical and hate-filled man that wouldn’t be out of place in a Coen brothers movie. Problem is, vamps are divided into two categories, First Borns and Sips, and they hate each other. First Borns are powerful and rich and are the only ones with the ability to turn others into vampires. Sips are seen as vicious mutts that value self-indulgent violence above all else. The Sips are outlawed by the First Borns, and anyone who’s making more of them is bound to suffer their wrath.
Ward’s script does an amazing job of setting up a horror world of haves and have nots, complete with secret blood transactions that create new problems worthy of exploration. Sips use their new vamp identities as a means to gain a larger following on social media, augment their influencer status, and turn bloodsucking into an even bigger trend (complete with “live feeds”). It’s a smart and innovative twist on a classic formula that is tailored for our time.
Reynold’s art stuns with its ability to produce characters and places that feel storied and lived in, respectively. The vampire designs honor the classic and classy fang-heavy look, at least as far as the first issue is concerned, but they carry themselves like mobsters who control a whole network of underground enterprises, all of which makes them even more menacing.
Heather Moore’s colors are a highlight. For a vampire story, the comic is quite bright, with characters and environments allowed to be seen in full view. The color palette is muted, though, but it works to portray everything and everyone as if in a state of pop death that cleverly represents bloodsucking as the predominant way of life.
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering work is equally colorful and it shows a willingness to play with the text. Key vampire-related words burst out of speech bubbles in oversized fonts and are colored differently than the rest. Words like ‘blood’ and ‘bite’ make a particular impact whenever they’re used in dialogue and are given special treatment throughout the comic. It all signals what is, in essence, a well-coordinated piece of storytelling that flows harmoniously. Not a single beat is off time.
Blood Stained Teeth #1 is another great vampire comic in what can be argued as a new golden age of vampire comics. It holds its own alongside books like Killadelphia, Out, and Redneck. Ward and Reynolds are out to tinker with old traditions, to mess around with formulas and come up with new configurations. The creative team behind Blood Stained Teeth is quite simply dead set on tapping into veins that are bursting with fresh plasma, and they’re not afraid to leave a dark and bloody mess behind.
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