Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Graphic Novel: Blood Stained Teeth

It turns out the Birchers were kind of right. There is a hidden cabal operating behind the scenes. They just happen to be vampires rather than central bankers. It is an exclusive brethren, but not exclusive enough for the First Council. As far as they are concerned, the only decent vampires are those who are born that way, unlike the crass “sips” Atticus Sloane keeps turning. His vampire-turning business has gotten too prolific and conspicuous, so they give him a deadline to kill all his sips in three weeks, or else, in artist-creators Christian Ward & Patric Reynolds’ graphic novel Blood Stained Teeth: Book One: Bite Me (collecting issues 1-5), which goes on-sale today.

Sloane is a vinyl collector, but he collects hipster bands instead of vintage jazz. Over the years, he has developed a taste for human music and luxuries, which he pays for with his vampire turning service. Aside from Joey, Sloane’s familiar companion, the vampire does not care much for his sips. Usually, they desired immortality for the obvious tacky reasons. He does not care much for the First Council either, but they are most certainly powerful enough to kill him.

Therefore, when the impose their mandate, he must comply. To emphasize the point, they kill Joey in front of him, but his familiar continues to advise him in his mind’s eye, like Luke Kirby’s wife in
Panhandle or Kaley Cuoco’s one night stand in The Flight Attendant. Unfortunately, many of his creepy sips will be harder to kill than poor Joey.

Frankly, the whole vampire council feels awfully “familiar” by now, from franchises like
Underworld, Blade, and A Discovery of Witches. Ward and Reynolds introduce Bram Stoker as the Council’s spokesman, but that is not enough to liven up the undead premise. They are still just the same vampires talking about their own superiority.

Still, the art has a gritty, old school vibe that aptly suits Sloane’s bloody beatdowns with his nasty sips. Arguably, the Council is right—he has been irresponsible. In fact, Sloane is a rather unappealing character, so it is hard to care about him, his predicament, or his sips, except to root against them all.

There are more issues of
Blood Stained Teeth coming, so do not expect much resolution at the end of the first tradepaper collection. Yet, it is really just more of the vampire intrigue you have already seen before. Blood Stained Teeth is simply too much like other things to recommend when it goes on-sale today (9/27), wherever books and comics are sold.