Friday, June 11, 2010

Bloodstrike #1

TITLE: Bloodstrike #1

PUBLISHER: Image Comics

COVER DATE: April 1993


32 pages


There's really only one distinct memory that I have of his book from when I originally read it (and no, it wasn't the blood spattered cover effects). This was the issue where I finally realized that the Liefeld-verse of comic book titles wasn't really doing it for me, and I stopped buying them on a regular basis. If I dug down deep enough into my subconscious, I'm sure that I'd find out that I was just buying 'em out of habit since the beginning of X-Force anyway.

And if I'm being completely honest with myself, "buying 'em out of habit" is just the polite way of saying "caught up in the speculator boom".

I'd still peek my head in occasionally for certain projects like Deathmate or Heroes Reborn, but that was more for the characters and spectacle than for the Liefeld house style.

So yeah, this was my swan song with the extreme corner of Image Comics. Was the book that bad, or was it just time for me to move on? Let's find out...

  • Creator/Plot/Layouts: Rob Liefeld
  • Pencils: Dan Fraga
  • Script/Editor: Eric Stephenson
  • Inks: Danny Miki
  • Colors: Byron Talman, Brian Murray
  • Lettering: Kurt Hathaway
  • Color Separations: Chameleon Prime
It's dusk in the Arizona desert, and the enigmatic leader of Bloodstrike, Cabbot, fills us in on their current mission as it's happening. They've been brought in to take down some sort of genetic research laboratory that is armored up more than Cable's left arm. We're not really told too much about why they're here to destroy the facility, just that somebody is paying for them to take it out.

Cabbot and Tag sneak in one side of the compound, while Deadlock and Fourplay create a disturbance at the other end.

I love the old 90's character names. They seem to fall into two modes; either vague and extremely foreboding sounding, or incredibly obvious while bordering on parody.

So which one of these characters is Deadlock and which one is Fourplay? I bet you can guess, but my money's on Fourplay being the Wolverine clone as he looks like a very generous lover.

Once inside, Cabbot and Tag make short work of the hired help and are about to head deeper into the facility when Cabbot is overcome by a powerful sense of deja vu as one of his recurring flashbacks take hold.

He's not the only one getting deja vu. Didn't we just read this same story not more than a couple of months ago?

Let's see...

In Deathmate Red, we had a tactical strike team of heroes infiltrating a heavily guarded base.

While in Bloodstrike, we have a tactical strike team of heroes infiltrating a heavily guarded base.

In all fairness, this is a situation that has been well trod in the world of comics. Let's not hold it against 'em, and move on.

When Cabbot comes out of his flashback, we find that the momentary distraction was costly as he and Tag have been found by the base's Commander, Corben. Just as he orders his men open fire, the cavalry arrives.

And with the cavalry, another sense of deja vu.

In Deathmate Red we had an over-sized rock guy crash in from above and beat up a bunch of armored goons single-handedly.

In Bloodstrike we have an over-sized robot guy crash in from above and beat up a bunch of armored goons single-handedly.

Over the next seven pages, we are born witness to Shogun in all his robotic glory as every appendage sprouts more gun barrels than a hydra has heads. With all of that firepower, it doesn't seem like this should take seven pages to take down some generic armored goons, but throw in two (count 'em, two) double-page spreads and that's what you get.

In all the chaos, it's revealed that Corben is merely a holographic image that dissipates in all of the gunfire.

It's at this point that Cabbot feels he's being set-up somehow. Collecting Shogun and Tag, they head off to rendezvous with Deadlock and Fourplay. Someone on the creative team has a real soft spot for Shogun, as we then get a full page of him strapping Cabbot and Tag on his back and taking off like a human rocket.

Speaking of Deadlock and Fourplay, they have things well in hand(s) dealing with some more generic armored goons. We never do find out what makes Deadlock all "deadlocky", but I guess it's just enough that he's mean and out of control and all. I suppose it doesn't hurt that he stole Wolverine's cowl too. That guy must really be a badass.

Cabbot and the rest of the team soon show up, and just as he's explaining that they're bugging out because the job has gone wrong, Corben shows back up ready to finish the job. He also explains that Cabbot was right, they were set him!


I'm sure it was all part of a plot to further his quest for world domination or some such thing--

And by insane, I'm sure he's talking about the writer who gave him such hardcore intentions on which to hang the plot

What was that? Hold on, I'm now getting told that that wasn't the case. Yes, I'm getting confirmation that Corben hired Bloodstrike himself so that he could take them down as they tried to infiltrate the base and then keep his job as head of security because he was about to be let go.

But this came out in the boom time of the 90's! Everyone had a job. I guess this issue truly was ahead of its time, as it's more timely now than it was seventeen years prior.

Seeing how shockingly unimpressive Corben's secret plan was, it comes as no surprise that he's taken down in short order. Tag finally shows why she's called Tag as she touches Corben and he freezes in place.

I feel some more deja vu coming on...

In Deathmate Red we had the leader of the generic armored goons shot in the back while he was unable to defend himself.

In Bloodstrike we have the leader of the generic armored goons shot point blank while he is unable to defend himself.

Back at their home base, Cabbot is recording his post mission log when he gets word of their next job...and this time it's personal. Their mission is to track down one of the rogue group of super-humans plaguing New York. The group they'll be going after this time? Brigade, led by none other than Cabbot's brother, Battlestone.


The big takeaway from this issue, is that I discovered that I like my comics just a tad less obvious.

It's called Bloodstrike, so lets throw some blood effects on the cover.

It's a team of professionals that are as ruthless as they are cunning. How do we know? We're told about it through the narration on every third page.

A little subtlety in comics goes a long way.

The art was about what you'd expect. Plenty of over-extended poses, plenty of pouches, nary a background to be seen. Lots and lots of primary colors, and not much shading to offer anything in the way of contrast.

Still, I suppose if you dig this type of book, then it's done well enough in that style to find something to enjoy here. I better stop while I'm ahead, as this review is starting to wade into back-handed compliment territory.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Rob Liefeld

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