The quality of the Extreme Studios relaunch is one of the more surprising comics stories of the year, with both “Prophet” and “Glory” getting rave reviews and needing second printings. But not much has been said about “Bloodstrike” – hit the cut to rectify that.
Written by Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Franchesco Gaston
The newly resurrected Bloodstrike team is sent against Cabbot’s dad: the supervillian QUANTUM! Meanwhile, Cabbot is high in the mountains of Afghanistan fighting…mummies?!
One of my earliest brushes with celebrity was at MDM Comics in Bergenfield, NJ in early 1993, meeting Dan Fraga, artist on “Bloodstrike,” and having him sign both my “Bloodstrike” #1 and a Bloodstrike poster. For an 11 year old, this was the definition of awesome, despite him not being very famous, or the book being one of my favorites, or even all that memorable. It was an Image book, it felt edgy, and I had a signed #1. Life was good!
But over the years, comics came and went, and when they came, they came in different forms – sometimes horrific, sometimes superheroic, sometimes comedic, but they all came with something different than what I had in “Bloodstrike” #1. When I would go back to it, everything about it seemed a little too much – the team was a little overstuffed, the art was a little too muscly and gun heavy, the subtlety non-existent. To be fair, I have little recollection of the series much after those first few issues, and I have little desire to go back and re-read them.
The recently re-launched “Bloodstrike,” in some ways, resembles my memory of the series from its heyday. Everyone feels like they are trying just a little too hard to bring back this book that I don’t know was all that missed, all that needed, or all that enjoyable in the first place.
Tim Seeley is capable of a lot more than this. Issue #26, the first back, had some really interesting character moments and suggested that this was going to be a different sort of book. But every character Rob Liefeld creates has a little Deathstroke in him, and there is just too much Deathstroke here. Cabot himself has the vibe, his dad has the weird, Eric Wallace penned Deathstroke from “Titans” vibe, and while ol’ Slade was never a mercenary working for the government, his eye-patched attitude is all over this.
Again, everything just feels like too much. Not only is there a terrorist, but he has to be sleeping with a Paris Hilton-type. Not only are there new versions of the old team needlessly reintroduced after doing a really fine solo issue, but all of the character development we saw in Cabot is replaced by lame quips and over the top violence from the new team members and our protagonist. To say that this is the least interesting of the Extreme Studios books is totally fair, and to say that Seeley is playing firmly within the Liefeld ballpark would also be true.
Franchesco Gaston does a nice job on pencils, but his work seems to be too clean and too vibrant for the subject matter here. A grittier artist would have been a better fit, but that isn’t to say I don’t enjoy his work. He reminds me a little of Jesus Saiz, and that is quite the complement in my book. I don’t know why Gaston and Seeley decided to have the new team members have the same names as some of the old team members, but be less interesting. A female named Fourplay is dumb, but in the old book she had four arms – that’s super dumb, and also sort of fun.
And that is what is missing here. Everyone must know that Liefeld, love him or hate him, is a pretty over the top creator. If you don’t want to reinvent the wheel on this book, at least amp it up to a fun place! Say what you will about “Hawk and Dove,” but Liefeld wasn’t afraid to have Hawk and Dove fight slightly different colored Hawk and Dove for an entire arc; he’s okay with taking a dumb idea to its logical conclusion. Seeley and Gaston seem to want to do a respectful new chapter of this book, but newsflash, that’s not the Extreme way. Do you think that Liefeld feels like he needs to respect what Kyle Davies was doing on “Deathstroke?” Fuck no, dude’s going to have bigger guns, bigger swords, and LOBO.Continued below
I never thought I’d say this, but this book needs more Lobo.
Ultimately, I just don’t have too much to say about this book. It is certainly hurt by its Extreme Studios brethren “Glory” and “Prophet,” both of which have had major retooling and have been two of the most unique books coming out this year. This is a softer reboot, and therefore doesn’t have the passionate take behind to bring it to a new place. This just feels like a meh Liefeld comic, and there are more than enough of those floating around right now.
Final Verdict: 4.2 – Save your money for the other Extreme titles