Writer: Peter J. Tomasi, Artist: Maxim Simic, Colors: John Kalisz, Letters: Rob Leigh, Editor: Brian Cunningham.
Blood Tree #1 from Image Comics is a mystery, pitting two NYPD detectives against a serial killer with a zany gimmick. When bodies start raining from the sky — ironically clad in angel wings — it becomes clear that a killer is on the loose and the only thing that can bring them to justice is a run-of-the-mill police procedural. The writing and visuals of this issue are carefully considered and manage to instill a realistic and tense atmosphere that ultimately fizzles in its average-ness. This issue maintains your interest throughout, dropping narrative seeds that it hopes will be seen through to their uniquely storied conclusions. Though a fun read, Blood Tree #1 fails to stand out due to its cookie-cutter premise and bland delivery.
The writing stands out the most in Blood Tree #1. Dialogue is grounded and unique to characters in a way that feels real. The relationship between our protagonists, Agents Azzaro and Diaz, represents the height of this character work. Character interactions feel like they carry history with them, backstories we aren't made privy to yet. The world we are given feels lived in. The art complements the mystery and realism of this story through heavy linework and an emphasis on bold yet desaturated colors. Shadows are heavy and faces are unreadable. The corresponding atmosphere created in this title works well with the jaded nature of our protagonists and the grittier nature of the narrative itself. All the pieces for this story are set up well but I continuously found my attention slipping as I realized more and more that nothing new is brought to the table in this issue.
I'm a sucker for a well-written serial killer story, or even a half-way decent mystery, so this title was naturally alluring to me; however, there's nothing (yet) to distinguish Blood Tree from any other mystery/thriller comic out there. Blood Tree #1 drops various hints to the future of its story, plenty of which tease original avenues of storytelling that I think will help freshen this series up in an already saturated genre. At the center of this issue is the serial killer whose gimmick is certainly eye-catching, but not enough is given to keep the reader engaged with the story. This is surely meant to drive up the dramatic effect while we are introduced intimately with our protagonists; the problem with this lays in the surface-level depictions of our main characters. While dialogue is down-to-earth, we still know little to nothing of our lead characters, a fact that prevents any meaningful reader engagement.
Blood Tree #1 is a promising start to a series that lacks boldness in execution. This may be a premature opinion given the various foreshadowings, but the beginning of this narrative journey is by-the-book, a fact that will make this series' first issue very familiar to anyone who is a fan of B-list mysteries. Nevertheless, Blood Tree #1 earns itself a respectable 3 out of 5 POPs!!!
Be sure to find out if my review is accurate by picking this title up from Image Comics (here) or from YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP(!!!) when it's released on February 1st. If you're a fan of Tomasi's work with the capes-and-cowls crowd, then I'd recommend his expert handling of Batman in Batman: Detective Comics: Mythology. If you lean more towards the crime thriller aspects of Blood Tree #1 then I'd recommend Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty. Happy reading!
Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.