Blood Hunters #1 featured Reviews 

“Blood Hunters” #1

By | May 10th, 2024
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Marvel’s vampire-packed event, “Blood Hunt,” has begun, and with it come the tie-ins. With vampires running wild over the world, there’s plenty of heroes who will have to fight them outside of the main event. Enter “Blood Hunters,” which provides snippets of various characters caught in their own fights, each with a different creative team behind them. So let’s see how it goes…

Written by Mark Russell, Christos Gage, and Erica Schultz
Illustrated by Bob Quinn, Javier Garrón, and Bernard Chang
Colored by Matt Milla, Morry Hollowell, and Marcelo Maiolo
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna

The first in a new anthology series that explores how the shattering events of BLOOD HUNT cover the breadth of the Marvel Universe! HAWKEYE is on the run – but does he have enough trick arrows in his quiver to avoid both the long arm of the law AND vampires out for his blood?! MAN-WOLF and J. JONAH JAMESON do a little father-son bonding – while also fighting for their lives against a horde of bloodsuckers! And, in a continuing story, with CLOAK missing in action DAGGER strikes out in search of new and surprising allies. Witness the genesis of Marvel’s wildest team yet: the BLOOD HUNTERS! It all begins here!

“Blood Hunters” is an anthology, which means we have three different stories to look at, all tied together by being a part of the “Blood Hunt” event. As such, we’ll have to look at each of the stories individually, as well as how they tie together into the overall narrative.

The first story, “The City That Never Weeps,” is ostensibly a Hawkeye story, but one that dedicates a good portion of its narration to talking about New York and the strength of New Yorkers. In fact, it spends a surprising amount of time talking about how tough New Yorkers are, although to be fair, New York in the Marvel Universe does tend to be the epicenter of most world-shattering events.

Getting past the “I Heart New York” theme, the story itself is still a fun one. It features Hawkeye having to work together with a group of civilians from a random diner to fight and escape an oncoming vampire swarm, which is a fun concept. Writer Mark Russell gives us a fun assortment of random civilians and has them use their own strengths to neat effect, such as having a priest bless a water tower to fight vampires with holy water.

The dialogue is also amusing, giving us some good banter from Hawkeye, civilians, and vampires alike. There are recurring jokes about Hawkeye growing a mustache to go incognito, a fun moment where a vampire questions who even uses arrows anymore mid-dissolving, and overall plenty of dialogue filled with voice and personality. So even if you don’t like the monologue about how tough New Yorkers are, there’s plenty of good chatter to enjoy.

Artist Bob Quinn and colorist Matt Milla bring us the visuals for this part of the story, and their work is solid all around. Quinn’s artwork is clean and detailed, giving us character designs and scenery filled with depth and volume, and remains consistently solid. The shading effects work well for the darkness of the event, while still keeping the characters cast in light so we can see them all clearly.

(There is one moment where it looks like a vampire is getting impaled by the blunt end of a pickaxe, which feels a bit off, but that’s a minor point of critique.)

Milla’s colors do a great job helping the artwork pop, using bright shades that help the characters stand out against the backgrounds and add to the volume. Even in the darkness of the blackened sky, the colors stand out sharply and keeps the comic visually pleasing. The vampires themselves seem to have more shadows and darker colors about them, helping juxtapose them to the heroes and civilians and giving them more of a monstrous feel.

The second story, “Blood Relations,” focuses on the Jameson family – specifically, J. Jonah Jameson and his son, John, AKA Man-Wolf. Jameson and son have typically been inhabiting different corners of the Marvel Universe of late, but now we get to see them work together. This story is more character-focused, highlighting their familial relationship in the midst of all the action.

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Writer Christos Gage does a good job letting that relationship show through the dialogue as the story progresses, with J. Jonah Jameson constantly yelling at or about Spider-Man while Man-Wolf demonstrates his own prowess as a hero with experience fighting things that go bump in the night. It also serves to show the gulf that’s grown between them, which they get to address in a nice character moment.

This story also has the most action, with a bloody brawl between Man-Wolf and several powerful vampires. The flow of the fight can get a little choppy here and there, but it features some properly imhuman vampire designs and some impactful panels that show off their monstrous might.

Artist Javier Garrón does a fine job with these action scenes, as well as the artwork in general. It leans more into the grittier side, with rougher, more exaggerated features, but Garrón’s art really shines when he’s focusing on the big and nasty moments. One panel where Man-Wolf turns his head, fangs bared, is particularly impressive, and it leads to a shot where the chomping of his jaws is framed by a massive sound effect.

Morry Hollowell’s color work also emphasizes the darkness, using the black skies and shadowed scenery to set the tone while using fire and city lights to illuminate the darkness. This lends itself to some great shading, which helps the details in Garrón’s vampire designs pop off the page and emphasize their monstrous features.

Finally, “Once More Into The Darkness,” written by Erica Schultz, is technically a Cloak and Dagger story, but since Cloak is a Darkforce user caught up in the same spell that cast the world in darkness, it’s just focused on Dagger.

This chapter blends the action and narration nicely, using very little dialogue while still giving us plenty of internal monologue from Dagger. This catches us up on where she’s been and what she’s been doing since the vampire attack began. But it also serves to set up some internal conflict as we see one of the vampires she’s fighting is a civilian who was turned, and one she recognizes.

This story is also the first one that’s not self-contained, as it sets up the “Blood Hunters” team that’s going to form.

Bernard Chang’s artwork and Marcelo Maiolo’s colors work wonders, balancing clean, bold character designs and the detailed monsters and backgrounds. The vampires are bulging with muscles and covered in scars, but even Dagger has plenty of nice little details that add to her design, like the seams in her outfit and gentle shadows adding to the contouring of her face. The action flows nicely from strike to strike, with the panels between giving us just enough time to breathe while more monsters rise from the shadows.

Maiolo’s colors also give us a nice contrast of light against the darkness, while relying on more natural tones that blend with Chang’s detailed designs. Occasionally we get panels that use the colors for extra impact, like where Dagger stabs a vampire and the panel turns black and white on a red background. Other times the glowing effects of dagger’s light blades or explosions add an illuminating emphasis to the characters.

Suffice to say, it looks great, making full use of both light and shadow.

Overall, each of these stories has plenty going for them on their own. When put together, “Blood Hunters” is a fun compilation giving us snapshots of what fan-favorite characters are up to during the “Blood Hunt” event, and is filled with engaging and entertaining snapshots of the ongoing battle against vampiric forces. The creative teams behind each story are talented in their own rights, and no part of the story felt weaker than the others.

Final Verdict: 7.6 – A fun assortment of well-crafted and wonderfully illustrated stories showcasing Marvel heroes caught up in the latest crossover event.

Robbie Pleasant