Rebel Blood #2 came across to me as the comic book equivalent of a big summer blockbuster. It moves fast, it is very violent, it looks good, and it does not always make a lot of sense. The question is whether or not thirty or so pages of that is enough to warrant the cover price.
Presumably, there was a Rebel Blood #1. I did not read it. Where it seems to have left readers, and where this book begins, is with a man named Chuck, sneaking into a snowy cabin. He comes upon a group of people he seems to know, but they are all hideously deformed, eating human flesh, and generally being as crude as can be. Our protagonist barges in with a shotgun, chats for a second, and then gets knocked out. The story that follows is more or less Chuck’s escape from these conditions. I am just not sure why.
Here’s the thing. A guy fighting off rats and monsters with lots of violent murder action looks good. I do not know if it is really the most interesting story that can be told about a man alone in the wilderness with monsters though. Chuck goes into this cabin and after he is captured his only goal is to get out. The creatures did not seem to know he was around before, so why did he not just bail on the whole thing? Then the creatures knock him out and put him in the basement where, after some deliberation, they decide to send one guy at a time to try to kill him. Why did they not just kill him when he was knocked out? Even if they wanted to eat him, they still could have tied him up instead of leaving him to his own devices with an axe. As such, the entire spectacle makes no sense and comes off as an excuse for action shots.
The action itself is alright, but not without its problems. I found the art style itself to be visually interesting, with lots of heavy shadows and some genuinely cool blood splatter effects. Visceral is a good word for it all. It makes me think of viscera too. Unfortunately, the visual storytelling leaves something to be desired. There are multiple uses of the character showing up several times in one panel to show movement. That is literally the entire point of having a panel and I am not sure what the intention of this device was. In the scheme of things, it just comes off to me as needlessly confusing. The book is not doing anything unique with its panel layouts or pages, like some books have, so I do not understand why this is used at all. Another peculiarity I noticed was a few instances of a first person viewpoint in a panel, while the character is holding a gun. To me, this just screams, “Look at me! I am pretending to be a first person shooter! People like those, right?” I find it hard to believe the artist could not have come up with a more interesting visual for such a potentially expressive medium as comics.
In the end, Rebel Blood #2 has too little style to support its almost non-existent substance. There are some characterizing moments for Chuck, but they really just feel like going through the motions. A flashback tells us that he has a family. A conversation with the monster tells us he doesn’t want to kill. A conversation afterwards to someone we do not see tells us he is upset about his upsetting situation. Wow, this Chuck fellow sure is a regular guy. Unfortunately, regular does not directly translate to relatable. In fact, when there is nothing else to the character, it usually translates to boring. Chuck is a boring guy in a boring comic book.