I was at my local store the day Rebel Blood #1 came out, I even flicked through it and instantly dismissed it thinking ‘oh another zombie story, just what I didn’t want’ – I think I picked up the woeful Supercrooks #1 instead. With little to no characterisation and/or plot, lacking nuance, and more surprisingly, given that it was Mark Millar, humour, albeit with sublime artwork by Leinil Yu, what an error it was.
What I had failed to realise is Alex Link and Riley Rossmo have created something rather avant-garde, particularly in regards to the structure of the comic and its panels – the story is told in a non-linear fashion, however, it is expertly done to prevent bewilderment – and arresting in terms of art. Plus it’s not more zombie fare as I initially thought – it concerns an infectious disease which affects both humans and animals alike, mutating them. Having read the miniseries in full, I can conclude it’s a well crafted psychological horror, albeit with the mutated undead.
A fateful radio call informs Chuck Neville of this. A former firefighter, whi after an on the job accident, is busted down to staffing a fire tower – the isolation of which has had detrimental effects on our hero; driving his overactive imagination for one, as well as having detrimental effects on his marriage. We are then treated to a number of possible scenarios and flashbacks until we reach what is a fantastic final panel of #1. Read with due care and attention, as there are an abundance of clues in this first issue regards the fate of our protagonist. Chuck is then guided by a lone voice in the night to rescue his loved ones – any more in-depth than that and I risk spoiling what is an excellent mini, where all is not what it seems, with each scene more visceral than the next. Surrealism is rare in mainstream comics and this was a welcome change.
Whilst co-writer Link is new to comics, Rossmo, who is both co-writer and artist on this series, you may
remember from Cowboy Ninja Viking (movie in development) or Daken: Dark Wolverine. Rossmo stated in an interview with the Calgary Herald the remote wilderness settings were influenced by his experiences canoeing at Waskesui. Whilst the artwork is crude, it has an unfinished/hallucinogenic quality to it, I enjoyed it thoroughly. And the bonus material is stellar.
These creators will certainly be on my watchlist; little did I realise Rossmo was already, he’s set to provide artwork for Bedlam (check the preview via USA Today HERE), Nick Spencer’s (Morning Glories, Thief of Thieves – AMC TV show in development) tale of a reformed homicidal maniac and criminal overlord returning to the town he terrorized for years.
Rebel Blood is available from the 19th September 2012 at all good comic stores.