Writer: Bryan Hill
Artist: Elena Casagrande
Cover Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
First and foremost, I’m gon’ have to make this announcement (and celebrate as well)… Since the character’s creation back in 1973, Bryan Hill is officially the first Black writer to write a solo Blade comic! Mega congrats to him! (And shout out to Danny Lore, who’s working on Bloodline: Daughter of Blade limited series). Now… onto Blade 1…
Whomever it was who thought of this creative team for Blade (I’m assuming editor Will Moss), a round of applause. Despite the character’s popularity and status as the man and Marvel Comics figure to help spring forth the superhero movie craze (after Batman and Robin killed it), Blade seems to be a relatively tough character to either get right in the comics or transition into the big leagues in terms of comic popularity. His books never really took off, and some may have been questionable in quality or fan interest.
Writer Bryan Hill and artist Elena Casagrande may be that team to help elevate the character in his newest solo effort. Without spoiling too much, a young woman finds herself in the center of what may be a shift in the supernatural world order. She is being hunted by a strange and mystical man as well as demons and monsters. Why is she being hunted? She doesn’t know. And Blade is summoned by the Werewolf Nation (the WHAT?!) to find out.
Now, we know Blade. The cool, suave, and sleek badass who’s half human and half vampire… who swears to protect the first half of him from the evils of his second half. He hates all things evil and supernatural and will rest at nothing until he squashes them like roaches. One of the biggest appeals of Blade due to Wesley Snipes-led movies is the sleek action. I’ve found in past efforts his fight scenes, sadly, are hard to emulate in terms of excitement and visual appeal.
Elena Casagrande’s art is the visual feast that Blade needs. It is strong and direct, but loose and fluid when it needs to be, and it captures Blade’s movements and skills with his body and swordplay very well. Casagrande’s art is quite cinematic, or rather it gives the impression of it being cinematic with eye-popping layouts to help break any moments of monotony. You’ll find no stiff movements here and consistent character designs.
Blade is dodging, swinging, and flipping around, and you can’t help but imagine all the actual movements in your head as if it’s moving on the page. And the lush colors… oooh boy! The colors, for the most part, are quite warm for this type of story, but the warmth helps with the dark nature and darkness of this “second world” filled with creepy crawlies. When shit gets serious, Casagrande jumps us into sharp reds to emphasize the brutal violence and cool blues when it’s time to breathe… but only for a moment. I truly hope Casagrande is here to stay for the long run if this book proves successful.
Design-wise, I did wish we got a look similar to Blade’s look on the cover done by Jordie Bellaire – which is spellbinding, by the way. But I think we’ll get a few different looks throughout the series, as Blade may be one of the best-dressed heroes we have in the comic world. Dude has style. And we definitely get some style here, don’t get me wrong.
Now I’m gushing all over the art. How’s the writing, you ask? While I found a moment or two (a twist) to be pretty predictable, Bryan Hill is no newbie nor a slouch when it comes to crafting a fun vampire/demon tale. Hill has a history of having written for the Buffy and Angel comic books, so I feel he is the perfect writer at the moment to give us something fresh and new. Matching the dynamic artwork, Hill has us already cheering for Blade. The deadpan sarcasm is written with seemingly no effort, and the pacing and unraveling of the story move at such a pace that you’re given a lot but still feel disappointed it ends because you want more. As a whole, the story is a little by the numbers and also set up, but there’s enough carefully written craft here that you’re willing to see where this takes you. And a beautifully gory moment at the end that I actually want to know how Hill wrote and described this in his script!
And where is Hill taking us? Blade vs. the Mother of Evil. There’s promise here, and I don’t see me getting disappointed as this series goes on. So, Hill, if you’re reading this… the pressure is on, brother! Bring it on and give it all to me! This is the Blade book I’ve been wanting for a minute now.
Shout out to letterer Joe Sabino whose letters found a way to help make an already dynamic comic even more gripping and dynamic. There are moments that feel like the letters are jumping out of the page, helping you hear the moment as you read the intended way.
Bring on the Mother of Evil, dammit!
8 out of 10
Greg Anderson Elysée is a Brooklyn-born Haitian-American writer, educator, filmmaker, personal trainer, and model. Elysée previously wrote for theOuthousers.com, where he ran his own column, (Heard It Thru) The Griotvine, showcasing independent creators of color and LGBTQ creators, as well as writing for Bleeding Cool.
Elysée’s original comic series “Is’nana the Were-Spider” is a seven-time Glyph Award Winner.
His other work includes “Akim Aliu: Dreamer: Growing Up Black in the World of Hockey,” published by Scholastic Inc. and Kaepernick Publishing, “OneNation: Stronghold,” published by 133art Publishing, “I Dream of Home” in the Lion Forge graphic novel collection and Eisner Award-winning “Puerto Rico Strong,” and “Tyrone and Jamal” in the GLAAD Award-winning “Young Men in Love.” He lives in Brooklyn.