Welcome back to another month of comics reviews!
This month, we have an exciting preview from Mad Cave for Crusader, from Marvel Blade, and from DC Comics, Knight Terrors Angel Breaker.
Crusader (Mad Cave): This comic goes back to the time of the Knights Templar, with one of the soldiers transported through some sort of weird magic ritual to the Beastlands. Goblins, talking apes and far worse creatures inhabit this new land, and unsurprisingly the bad guys figure out that there's powers beyond their realms. They aim to profit from this new knowledge.
The illustrations are serious and bloody, which pairs nicely with a script that takes no prisoners. Stupid joke aside, this is a quick moving, plot-centric first issue. There's a distinct lack of shadows in Crusader, but seeing as we have a lot of blood, I'm more than happy to forfeit some of the more realistic details.
Overall, I enjoyed the first issue, and I would love to see where future episodes take us. The universe hints at a larger, more detailed environment than just what is shown.
Release date: September 6, 2023.
Blade (Marvel Comics): There's a parental advisory on the cover, so you know it's going to be violent, bloody and probably swears, maybe some "adult situations", if you know what I mean *wink wink nudge nudge*.
The issue starts out with an '80's nightclub scene, with the lighting of the scene in bright pink. As Blade enters the story, we switch to a blue background, and action scenes are highlighted in red. The story unfolds in the blue or pink background color, with Blade being his sassy self and plot elements starting to show themselves.
There's a woman, being followed by some unnamed masked man who wants to kill her, pretty standard for Blade wanting to make life hard (and short) for the interloper. There's an interesting use of panels to help tell some parts of the story that night be missed, mostly the POV of the hunted lady. Without giving too much away, there's particularly gruesome short moments which I could believe are deserving of the parental advisory warning.
From what I vaguely remember of Blade the 1998 movie, the dialogue seems relatable and the story beats are up to Marvel's standards while also being cinematic. There's a good matchup between the amount of dialogue vs. action sequences, which is always nice to have. The artists behind this issue had fun with the mood coloring of the panels, and the art overall matched the pace of the story.
So even if you don't have the Blade movie as a reference, this is a good introduction to Blade as a character. It doesn't assume that you've run into him before, but makes clear that he's a supernatural loner in a world of superheroes and monsters. I liked this one, and the plot hook is intriguing enough to have me interested in the next issues.
Knight Terrors Angel Breaker (DC Comics): Angel Breaker first shows up in Batman (2016) #122, so she's a relatively new addition to the DC Universe. This brings a lot of relief to someone like me who is trying to piece together the reading order of the Knight Terrors event as well as do some character research.
In short, there's a new villain on the block, and his name is Insomnia. Every hero is being plagued by their own worst nightmares. Doctor Destiny is also being manipulated by a machine that turns the waking world into nightmares. Angel Breaker is interested in the machine, and she needs Raptor (a professional thief) to steal it for her. Their uneasy alliance might make them the only people able to save the day.
Angel Breaker herself has an interesting character design, with a neat sword and suit to match it. She references her mysterious past with an all-female group of assassins, and gives lip service to what her sword can do, mostly reflecting back the raw power of her attackers. This issue sets up this new character and her plot point. in the larger story. Hopefully we'll see more of her in this multiple-month-long event, and find out how truly useful she is.
Out of the three comics I'm reviewing, Blade is definitely the front runner. Crusader is a strong offering from Mad Cave, which has been giving us more and more free advanced reader copies (hint hint, all you other "Independent comics"!). Most of what's interesting within the DC Universe is a new character, and some folks just aren't interested or invested in Angel Breaker yet. She seems neat, but the jury's still out on her utility.
That's all for now, see you next month!