Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Comics Review: "DARK BLOOD #2": Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby

DARK BLOOD #2 (OF 6)
BOOM! STUDIOS

STORY: LaToya Morgan
ART: Walt Barna with Moisés Hidalgo (pp. 10-12, 19)
COLORS: A.H.G.
LETTERS: Andworld Design
EDITOR: Dafna Pleban
COVER: Valentine De Landro
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Juni Ba; Valentine De Landro; Taurin Clarke
24pp, Colors, 3.99 U.S.(August 2021)

Dark Blood created by LaToya Morgan

Dark Blood is a new six-issue comic book miniseries created and written by screenwriter LaToya Morgan (AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” “Into The Badlands”).  Published by BOOM! Studios, the series is drawn by Walt Barna; colored by A.H.G.; and lettered by Andworld Design.  The series focuses on a Black World War II veteran who discovers that he has strange new abilities.

Alabama, 1955.  After leaving his job at the diner, “Hardy's Eats,” Avery Aldridge, also known as “Double A,” has a fateful encounter with a racist.  Double A is a highly decorated World War II soldier, a former fighter pilot, a member of the soon-to-be-legendary “Red Tails.”  He is expected to act like a boy … when he is actually a very powerful man.  But this is “The Night of the Variance,” and everything is going to start to change – even the things some don't want changed.

Dark Blood #2 opens six months before the Variance and reflects that which occupies Avery's oft-troubled mind.  He thinks of his wife, Emma, and their daughter, Grace Emmadell.  We see his life in “Vale Junction,” a small Black community where everyone knows him and loves Emma's “Vale Junction Book Mobile.”  Even his wartime experiences, especially from a particular time in Austria, circa 1945, flits in and out of Avery's memories.

However, reality intrudes after an altercation leaves Avery hurt.  Dr. Carlisle, a white university doctor, is the unlikely bystander who steps in to help, offering Avery immediate first aid.  As luck … would have it, Dr. Carlisle also operates a clinic “right outside of town on the old Rickman Farm” where he offers free medical care.  But nothing is really free...

THE LOWDOWN:  The indignities that Avery Aldridge suffers in Dark Blood #2 are familiar to me because I have experienced some of them and others were told to me via first hand or second hand accounts.  I admire a writer who can take such things and transform them into drama.  When a writer takes reality and inflicts it on make-believe people in a way that hits the audience in the soft spots (the heart, the soul, the mind), that is some mighty powerful storytelling.

Television writer-producer LaToya Morgan (AMC's “TURN: Washington's Spies”) offers in Dark Blood a comic book that is both science fiction-fantasy/horror and historical or reality-based drama.  She makes the Jim Crow world in her corner of Alabama truly an awful place, but at the same time, she presents in Vale Junction a Black community permeated with love and possibilities.  And that was the world that Black Americans lived not that long ago.

There are times when Avery suffers the insults of White people, and I can feel the hoary ghost of Nat Turner scratching at every window of my soul.  A documentary film or a work of journalism in our world would take Avery's experiences and attempt to engage our intellect.  Great drama takes those same experiences and engages our soul and ensnares our imagination.  It is through such mighty and imaginative drama that Morgan makes Dark Blood work as serialized fiction, a kind of fantastic fiction born in our reality based histories.

By page design and panel composition, artist Walt Barna brings the compelling drama of Dark Blood #2 to life.  With each panel, he is like a photographer working the right angles and capturing the perfect moments as he builds this chapter/issue.  There are also some beautifully drawn pages by guest artist Moisés Hidalgo.  Of course, A.H.G.'s gorgeous colors shift with the winds of Avery's memories, as well as with the linear jooks of Morgan's narratives.  So I credit the colors with forcing me to pay attention to the graphics throughout Dark Blood, especially this second issue.

After reading the first issue, I thought that LaToya Morgan, Walt Barna, A.H.G., and Andworld Design were off to a most excellent start, offering something that had great promise.  Dark Blood #2 aggressively delivers on that great promise.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of modern science fiction and dark fantasy comic books will want to drink Dark Blood.

A+

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"


Dark Blood trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzzXIYr_FrA&feature=youtu.be
Dark Blood first loook: https://www.boom-studios.com/wordpress/archives/dark-blood-1-first-look/
https://twitter.com/MorganicInk
https://twitter.com/WaltBarna
https://twitter.com/AHGColor
https://twitter.com/andworlddesign

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