Hot on the heals of my origin story (and in its honor), I gift to you twice the comic book offerings than usual. That’s right it’s SDCC week, and with the big show comes a bigger COC than usual.
As I shared last week, I am a big fan of Rob Liefeld’s work since Brigade issue 2 cemented my fandom for comic books. That of course had the unintentional effect of making my wife despise the man. Just kidding. She thinks the amount of energy he has and enthusiasm is awesomely ridiculous.
On to the meat of this week’s spotlight. This week Image released two works from Liefeld in Bloodstrike #1 and Covenant #2.
What can I say about Covenant other than I was not initially interested in a bible based story when issue 1 was solicited. However, after reading some interviews with its creator, I realized this would be more of a heist story. And what has been stolen? None other than the Ark of the Covenant and since I grew up on a steady diet of Indiana Jones, why not give it a shot.
After two issues, I’m glad I have this book a chance and can see what Rob means when he says that the bible characters are like the original superheroes. It also doesn’t hurt that the creative team on this book are doing tremendous work together.
As I mentioned this is a Liefeld book. Rob is listed as the creator and writer in the credits and has done a really good job establishing the protagonist, Samuel. Despite 9 years of Catholic schooling and a healthy dose of church going, I wasn’t at all familiar with this character. This book on the other hand has provided me solid insight into who he is and his motivations.
Now let’s get to the art. Who is Matt Horak? To be honest, going into this I knew Horak about as well as I knew the character of Samuel. But like That character, I am greatly enjoying Matt’s story (see what I did there). The action is really well done and I have had no problem following the story. Characters are expressive and there is a great scene that shows the power of the Ark. He aslo knocked a scene out of the park of a feverish older character Eli where the details on his sweat soaked face were incredible.
All in all both writing and art have improved from the first issue. Both were very good last time around but there is less need for expository set up and Horak seems like he is the type of artist that will continue to improve with each page. Keep your eyes out for his name in the future.
The final members of the creative team are Chris Eliopolous on letters and Jeremy Colwell on colors. Both of these guys help to make this a very good looking finished product. The coloring enhances the art and really makes certain scenes look incredible (again check out that Ark scene). And the lettering is clear and for my money Chris Eliopolous is one of the best and really helps add to the emotion on the page when necessary. His sound effects look great as well.
This team is working perfectly together and have really sold me on continuing to pick up a book I was initially going to pass on. This is another reason I am excited that Colwell and Eliopolous are back with Liefeld on our next book.
My dear reader, make no mistake when I say that Bloodstrike was preordered without hesitation. A book about soldiers continuously brought back from the dead written and drawn by Rob Liefeld? Yes please. The book that is leading up to the Brigade relaunch that was funded by Kickstarter? Try and stop me from getting it. No really. Try.
As I mentioned I like the man’s work. And this story has him taking it to a place that I haven’t often seen. This book is graphically violent, has curse words and some nudity here and there. Finally the fact that this issue has a COC Spotlight is completely fitting. If you’ve read it you know.
This issue starts off with the character of Operative Alpha chained to the wall with his intestines dripping out (all right just half of him is chained to the wall). Right off the bat this is a fun new take on these reanimated soldiers and the trouble they find themselves in while clueing new readers in on what this series is about. Alpha has already been killed a few times and resurrected by Project Born Again. However without the Project finding Alpha who is on an off the books mission there won’t be any regeneration.
This issue starts off in the blood soaked present with Alpha doing his best to free himself from his current predicament, but how did he get there. Liefeld then flashes the story back to 15 hours earlier where Alpha or “JT” as he is referred to by the villain, is on a lone mission infiltrating a stronghold while slicing and dicing his way to his objective.
This issue is action packed and shows how Rob Liefeld has a tight grasp on keeping the action fluid. And what about the reveal from the villain that this Bloodstrike operative’s initials are JT while having some previous relationship to the villain, Tragedy Ann.
Interestingly enough, the solicits mention Alpha as a mystery man character from Extreme’s past who is new to the program and the story reveals a connection to Tragedy Ann who bears quite the resemblance to Vogue of Youngblood. Drop me a line of you think you know Alpha’s identity based on this info.
Bloodstrike 1 was a fun ride as we see some old favorites like Bloodwulf, and some other characters from the Bloodstrike of old who have some really cool designs. Fans of old will love to see these old faces.
There’s also a bit of male on female and female on male violence in this issue, which warrants the mature label. However, I have never seen Bloodstrike as a group of “good guys.” These are mercenaries working for a paycheck so their morals aren’t always in the right place.
Mixed in with the violence is also some dark humor which works well in the framework of the story. The best example is during a scene where a character from the team is regenerated and Liefeld presents a neat visual right before a funny reference to a popular children’s toy. Honestly, the visual, dialogue, and distress I would feel as a man made me laugh. And a bit uncomfortable.
At the end of the day, I can’t recommend this enough providing you have the stomach for a book that isn’t about shiny heroes. If you can handle the uncomfortable scenes you have to give it a shot.
This book is about protagonists that aren’t very nice, a ruthless villain who is intelligent and powerful, and an epilogue that sets up another formidable female adversary looking to bring Bloodstrike down.
If this is the direction Rob wants to take his Extreme books in leading up to the Brigade relaunch, I am really going to enjoy the ride as I suspect other fans of his work will as well.
Does this issue take risks? Yes. Will it possibly alienate some readers who shy away from graphic violence, language and morally suspect actions from the characters we are reading? You bet it could. But I have come to expect nothing less from Image and this book is from one of the guy’s who started it.
For me, I enjoy this and feel it is in a similar vein to the movie Shoot Em’ Up or John Wick. Unstoppable characters are coming together for epic action. Brigade can’t get here fast enough and this is an amazing lead up.
I urge you to check it out, but if you’re on the fence, check back here where we will be covering each issue in a spotlight for the first arc.
You can also look forward to other spotlight’s as we will be looking at Leaving Megalopolis for our next installment by the talented team of Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore.