Writers: Mike Gagerman, Andrew Waller, Etan Cohen
Artist: Evan Shaner
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: March 19, 2014
Blood Brothers, a vampire adventure set in Los Vegas, strongly resembles the film work of Robert Rodriguez: snappy, plot-focused, sharklike (it never stops moving) and fun as all hell, even if some of the details don’t quite work. Each creator conservatively sticks to what he knows, with no one voice speaking too loudly over the other. In this case, less is more.
Etan Cohen, who created the story for this three-issue bloodsucker buddy comedy, is a screenwriter primarily known for Tropic Thunder and his work with Mike Judge on King of the Hill and Idiocracy. Mike Gagerman and Andrew Waller, who wrote the scripts, don’t appear to have much history creating comics, but their friendship allowed them to bounce ideas off one another to create an organic, genuine narrative. Artist Evan Shaner, the most experienced of the group, wisely keeps the sequential art nice and simple, with character designs that don’t dissolve in unnecessary complexity. And colorist Dan Jackson exercises admirable restraint; the colors are flat and limited in palette, which classes up the book a good bit. There are plenty of opportunities for each creator to show off, but somehow (a strong editorial hand?), every one collaborates gracefully, and the book is better for it.
This inspired chemistry keeps the flow quick and punchy. Flashbacks — usually a long-drawn distraction with tales of the undead — are almost always rendered in a single panel, resulting in some sharp and funny asides. Any hint of major drama quickly injects comedy into the mix, so the reader is never bogged down in tears and recriminations. Running jokes assemble quickly but don’t have the time to get old. The characters are so much fun to hang around (even the girlfriend turns out to be a badass) that I wished the book were longer. That feeling of affection and attachment in a comic is a rare pleasure, not to mention the story’s fulfillment of the old showbiz adage: “leave them wanting more.” In an age of overstuffed entertainment, when a Transformers sequel clocks in at 2.5 hours, it’s a blessing to not only walk away satisfied, but also to know that your time wasn’t wasted.