blade 1 featured Reviews 

“Blade” #1

By | July 21st, 2023
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

One of the things that makes massive comic book universes great is the ability to do crazy genre experiments. Do you wanna do mythology meets space tyrants? Comics books have your back! A political thriller involving robots vs. mutants? Sure thing! How about a cosmic being dealing with the ennui of their existence? It can certainly happen. With such a diverse pool of genres, you can explore how characters react to tropes, how powers can make or break a story, or create interesting fish-out-of-water scenarios. It also allows you to defy expectations or change a story at the drop of a hat, creating an intriguing mystery. This is one of the reasons that “Blade” #1 is an intriguing first issue, starting familiar and then making a quick shift to an exciting possibility of adventure.

Cover by Elena Casagrande and Jordie Bellaire
Written by Bryan Hill
Illustrated by Elena Casagrande
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino

Marvel’s slickest vampire hunter returns in a brand new ongoing by Bryan Hill (KILLMONGER) and Elena Casagrande (BLACK WIDOW)! True evil is patient. And a dark, ancient power has been simmering quietly for centuries…and when Blade himself is the one to unknowingly unleash it, Marvel’s entire supernatural underworld will come out of hiding to demand he handle it. Or pay a pound of flesh for his mistakes. Bloodbaths, blackmail and Blade – you won’t want to miss the explosive first issue of this new volume!

From the first few pages, “Blade” #1 seems to be a standard adventure for the Daywalker. You have all the things that make Blade cool; a sleazy vampire club, an innocent civilian trapped amongst the monsters of the Marvel universe, and then, of course, the pulse-pounding action as Blade does what he does best. It’s an incredible synthesis of all aspects of the creative team. Elena Casagrande’s depiction of the club has a certain degree of constant movement which goes from frantic to frightening at the turn of the page. Jordie Bellaire’s colors go from extravagant and vapid to dark and moody just as quickly, eventually relying on blood-red lighting and the dark shadows we’ve come to associate with the children of the night. Similarly, Joe Sabino’s depiction of the sultry music perfectly juxtaposes the monstrous hisses, and chaotic crashes of a seductive soiree turned to slaughter. It establishes its tone quickly, and when Blade crashes the party, the action lives up to the hype. That’s why it’s so exciting to watch as the story changes and transforms, much like the club at the beginning of the issue.

Now, full disclosure, most of my knowledge of Blade comes from the Wesley Snipe films of the late 90s. I don’t know if the character is known for globetrotting misadventures or genre mashups, but for the first few pages of “Blade” #1, it feels in line with what you’ve seen in the cinema. The thing is that Bryan Hill takes those familiar visuals and uses them to make something that feels new. Instead of Blade rescuing an innocent civilian, he’s been conned into unleashing a dark entity. Instead of kicking ass in the dark underbelly of the supernatural nooks and crannies of the world, he’s part of an ancient struggle for the fate of creation. It’s all presented in a very cool way. Every page contains another twist, every panel a new surprise. This is how comic storytelling sets a hook, taking the familiar and making you question every moment as your move through the story.

There are little hints about Dana’s less-than-innocent nature as you flip through the pages of “Blade” #1. There’s something off about his interaction with Tanaka. There are moments where her grief feels almost performative. But when Casagrande drops her heel turn, it’s beautiful. She splits up the page in two ways, action on the outside and emotion on the inside. As Blade gets the upper hand, her concern transforms into joy, and from that moment onward, the book isn’t the same. Casagrande has incredible control of the character’s body language, transforming her from demure to dangerous and then into something horrifying and otherworldly. It’s all very impressive and does a fantastic job of establishing the stakes of this villain.

Continued below

The only thing that maybe feels underdeveloped is the final bit of the first issue of “Blade” #1 when we go to the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia. A lot happens quickly, from the order enacting their revenge on Blade’s failure to a betrayal from one of their own. While it’s almost certain that we will learn more about this group in the coming months, they feel somewhat insignificant as it stands in the premier issue. (Or, at the very least, they don’t have a good track record.) It probably doesn’t help that there are two levels of misdirect to the organization, but it doesn’t necessarily make you clamor to learn more about them. They were a misdirect threat to Adana and then a force for Rotha to tear through to get the real adventure going. It might have been smart to start with Blade’s torture, showing Rotha’s disgust at the action, and then do something more with the next issue. It’s also possible that they aren’t all that important to the story overall, simply there to be a red herring, but that seems overly simplistic.

Overall, “Blade” #1 is a successful introduction to a new story and an amazing blend of incredible action and intriguing mystery. While many premier issues suffer meticulous pacing to lackluster twists, Hill and Casagrande keep the action up and lay out an exciting premise. The daywalker has to protect all of creation after he screwed it all up.

Final Verdict: 9.0 “Blade” #1 delivers an exciting premise with some incredible art. A fantastic kickoff to a new supernatural adventure.

Joe Skonce

Joe Skonce was born, raised, and currently resides in Ohio, but has been exploring fantastical and imaginary worlds for as long as he can remember. He loves big guys and barbarians, pirates and puppets, and is always down to find nerdy new things. Come say hi to him on twitter @tunabellgrande.