Thursday, October 12, 2006

Blood Stream #4

Blood Stream #4, December 1004, Image Comics
writers: Adam Shaw & Penny Register
artist: Adam Shaw

I work with kids, so I see blood all the time. Just a few hours ago, a coworker and I tended to a boy with a massive nosebleed, and a few minutes later, another boy lost one of his wisdom tooth and was quick to show me the disconnected chomper, tipping with a bit of fresh crimson. The sight just doesn't bother me anymore. I did cringe a bit at last night's news when they reported that a limited run of the Saw III movie poster will actually contain blood in its ink -- a fundraiser for the Red Cross -- but my distaste was less with the use of the blood and more at the thought of how low we will go for publicity. All that said, I was ready for Blood Stream #4. I don't know why, but I was ready for a violent tale of gore.

Perhaps the thought of the issue's painted interiors led me to believe that an intense blood bath was simmered beneath the comic's covers. Adam Shaw's strokes are masterful; although my first instinct is to compare the work with the well-known Alex Ross, I resisted and discovered an appreciation for Shaw's style. Some of his figure work could use more balanced proportion, and in several panels the characters' hands lose realization, but those fine points are mere gripes at an otherwise beautiful piece of work. Our hero, Amber, delivers some action-packed moves with a true sense of fluidity, and many scenes are effectively moody thanks to the heavy use of a particular shade or hue. The artwork definitely propelled me through this story . . .

. . . which wasn't the bloodbath I expected. In fact, despite the scenes of high violence, very little blood is spilled. The "blood stream" of this comic's namesake is the result of an experiment, specifically, an experiment on the protagonist Amber and her sister, Saran. In this issue, Amber uses the abilities bestowed within her through this experimental blood -- which apparently creates a new height of self-awareness by making the body's subconscious processes, like breathing and pumping blood, conscious, with superpowered results -- to save her sister from future experimentation. A few touching flashbacks make this mission more meaningful for the reader, and her success in the end more satisfying. Except for the lengthy scientific diatribes, I enjoyed this issue. No blood, but plenty of guts.

I must admit, I've been pleased with my selection of Halloween-oriented reviews, thus far. Monsters, ghosts, bloods -- all staples of this hallowed holiday. Tomorrow, a special Friday the 13th installment. Watch my Internet connection completely crash. Perhaps a bout with bad luck would be more appropriate . . .

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