Indie Comic Spotlight Review: Undead Western 'Blood Will Have Blood'

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A transient outlaw is recruited by the local sheriff of a small Wild West town. The sheriff is putting together a party to look for a band of cattle-killers. However, this isn't a normal band of killers and thieves. There is something else going on here.

The posse's search starts off bad and only gets worse; the people they find are more animal than man, are near-impossible to kill, and are willing to eat whatever meat is put in front of their face.

Blood Will Have Blood #1 cover by Shepherd Hendrix and Adam Metcalfe

As you could probably guess, this is more-or-less a Western zombie story.

There are some differences in the "rules." Headshots don't necessarily kill the undead; full decapitation seems to be the only sure-fire kill method. The zombies are fully capable of using rudimentary weapons, and some are capable of speech. They also mark their territory with blood drawings of a man with bones sticking out. They lose their sight and higher thinking to hemorrhaging.

The characters are all quite likable. There is the sheriff, Carl Stokes, the outlaw, Luther Plunkett, the former kitchen worker, Sally Maddox, and the former stable worker, Rufus Hughes.

Blood Will Have Blood is quite adept at doing a lot of characterizing in little time. The characters start dropping like flies, but you get a feel for who each one is before they go. It's both quite agnostic and deliberately displays more progressive politics than what would be common for the time. Stokes and Plunkett both treat Maddox and Hughes, the latter of whom is black, far better than one would expect of white men of the time.

There is a feeling of falsehood in that, but, at the same time, it's better than reading the uncomfortable and unacknowledged racism of Monstro Mechanica. Blood Will Have Blood doesn't want to be about race primarily, so it acknowledges the racial politics of the time, has its characters be far more tolerant than most people of the time were, and then pushes forward with its narrative. Whether or not that's the best way to handle it, I'm not the one to say. However, it is far from the worst way.

Regarding the agnosticism, there is a reverend named Whitlock who is in part of the story, wastes no time in trying to sexually assault Sally Maddox. She, satisfyingly, responds by taking off a part of his face with a cleaver.

The plot has a pleasing near-constant forward movement that is hindered somewhat by the frequent flashback sequences. The dilemma with the flashbacks is that they serve to muddle the present narrative, and there is confusion as to whether or not Plunkett is explaining these events to the rest of the party. Also, there are some slight appearance differences which complicate things exacerbated by the lateness in revealing names. For example, Carl Stokes has sideburns in the flashbacks but none in the present. As such, I wasn't sure he was in the present sequences, which initially were unclear in their connection to the opening flashbacks.

Also, there is another character I've not named yet who was tagging along. When they are revealed, and you hear how they were travelling, it challenges limits of disbelief somewhat.

These flaws aside, the comic is quite enjoyable. As I said, the characters are engaging and believable. There is plenty of pleasingly gory action, and the plot is interesting if somewhat flawed.

There is something of a Noah's Ark allegory here when you learn the big twists. Like the tale of Noah's Ark, it makes the person doing the "cleansing" looking a bit questionable, and you wonder why they only saved a few instead of trying to save everyone. Most he saved are admonished in this version, though, as only one knew of the plan before said "cleansing."

Shepherd Hendrix's artwork is quite good. It's very gritty and detailed. He handles the gore with skill. His zombies also look distinct and aptly creepy. It's reminiscent to the style of Mark Bagley, which is, if you know me, quite a good thing. Adam Metcalfe's color art is great, as one should expect. The overall comic looks great.

Blood Will Have Blood is a very enjoyable read. It has its flaws, and there are some stumbling blocks in the plot. But the good outweighs the bad by a lot, and the art is great as well. I can quite easily recommend this horror Western. Writer Ellis Bojar has put something special together with this comic.

For those interested, Blood Will Have Blood is available on ComiXology.

Edit: The marshall in the opening scene, William Rayburn, and the old man with the posse, Carl Stokes, are different characters. Apologies for the confusion.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.