In Review: Dragonsblood #1

Fun fantasy adventure with a crimson twist.

The covers: Eight covers to pick up for the inaugural issue of this hero. Martin Coccolo and Ivan Nunes have captured the spirit of dragonslaying with the A cover image looking up at Sigurd as he holds his sword ready with both hands. Smoke billows out behind the brave man standing outside a castle’s walls. If only he’d look behind him he would see the terrifying Fafnir behind him! Great illustration and cool colors. I like the Sigurd’s armor is colored in the same violets as the dragon’s scales. The B cover by Mike Krome and Hedwin Zaldivar has the opponents much closer. The dragon turns its head just in time to see Sigurd inches from its face, the man’s sword about to swing down for a death blow. The scream from both characters is great. I love the hair frozen in motion on the human and the exemplary work done on the dragon. And, yeah, it’s a photograph for the background, but look at the killer colors done on both characters. A change of pace is the C by Kevin McCoy and Ula Mos showcasing a red headed warrior standing in the snow holding a battleaxe. The determination on her face is terrific, her coat awesome, and the setting excellent. This, too, has strong colors with the character really popping against the snow. Fafnir is the focus of the D by Harvey Tolibao and Ceci de la Cruz. The mighty wyrm precedes its landfall with an expulsion of orange and yellow flame. The blues on the beast are beautiful and I love the smoldering red, orange, and brown background. Leonardo Colapietro on the E has created the hero confronting the beast. Sigurd is emerging from the right holding a mighty crimson blade with both hands. His eyes are sparking violet energy and his chest has a red jewel that’s so hot its center has gone white. The enemy is teased with several of its ivory spikes protruding from the left. The background is a maelstrom of yellow and brown. The Blank Sketch Edition is a white cover that’s waiting for an artist to create a masterpiece or to have the series’ creators sign it. The publisher, title, and creators’ names are at the top and the subtitle “Legend of Sigurd” is in the bottom left corner. There are also two variant covers: the Subscription Edition (limited to 75 copies) by John Royle with Jagdish Kumar and the Zenescope Exclusive (150) by Keith Garvey. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A-, B A, C A+, D A+, E A, and Blank Sketch Edition C

The story: High in the Fjällen Mountains, Sigurd ties his ebony horse outside the mouth of a cave. He puts his sword into the sheath on his back, places a helmet on his head, and enters a cave. In the darkness he lights a torch revealing the corpses of several would-be heroes. As he lifts a tattered red cape he thinks to himself, ‘After all this time, I still remember that poem my brother taught me. Destiny may dictate our end…but it is up to us how we face it.’ This begins a flashback to ten years earlier with Sigurd and his older brother hunting a deer. The elder gives the younger some pointers and the buck goes down. This is followed by a “Two Years Later” jump and the reader learns why the cape in the cave lead to these memories. Nick Bermel’s story returns to the present to show grown up Sigurd has learned much when it comes to fighting. The discovery of another fallen warrior creates another memory, though it’s much more heartfelt. Pages 10 and 11 introduce Fafnir the dragon. I love the build as the hero makes his way to the dragon and the action that occurs on 12. The object shown on Page 13 piqued my curiosity for its presence, as I’ve never seen such a thing in a dragon’s nest. Naturally, slaying the beast isn’t easy. What this creature says to Sigurd is great stuff. There’s an excellent surprising action on 17 followed by two great actions on 20. I loved Sigurd’s solution to his situation on the penultimate page. The final page is a neat twist in the action leaving the protagonist and the reader wondering where this will go next. Overall grade: A

The art: The artwork by Jason Muhr compliments the story very well. The first page is a full-paged splash that establishes the chilly destination of the lead as well as his size. Sigurd is first clearly shown on Page 2 when he places his helmet on and he looks every inch the hero. The reveal of the corpses on the next page expertly directs the eye to start at the top of the panel to show the cavern, then moving past Sigurd, before ultimately descending upon the grisly remains. I like the blurred borders around the flashback panels to show they’re memories. Sigurd’s brother looks good with the top panel on 5 excellent. The final figure on the page carries over fantastically to Page 6. The quartet of creatures encountered have a wonderful design and what they do, and what occurs to them, is superb. The jumbled irregular panels that contain the monsters add to the action. Check out the point of view of the first panel on 8 — that’s flat out cool! The object taken on 9 is great. The double-paged splash on 10 and 11 is the exact visual payoff the reader needs after the build: it’s beautiful and ominous. The actions in the final two panels on 12 had me swearing aloud in fear. The leap on 13 is killer — what a pose! I was very impressed with the easy to follow action on 14 – 18. That action on 17 is awesome. Panels go cockeyed when the action goes chaotic, with two memorable illustrations closing out 20. The final trio of images for the issue are terrific. Yeah, Muhr is an artist to follow. Overall grade: A

The colors: There are two colorists on this issue, Maxflan Araugo & Grostieta. Sadly, neither one has their specific pages stated in the credits, so my commentary can’t be directed to the appropriate individual. General comments it is then! The first two pages create a cool environment with blues and whites. The shadows on 4 are really strong. The color used for the article of clothing on 3 – 6 is perfect. Orange borders are used for panels on 6 – 7, making them pop against the black spaces. The colors for creatures are eerie cool. Fafnir is beautiful in violet and gray. Great use of colors for the objects on the floor. Flames from the wyrm are perfect in orange and yellow. Sounds throughout the book appear in every possible color and they intensify every noise. I like how Fafnir’s dialogue balloons are in blue to make them stand out. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue and narration (the same font), editorial notes, sounds, yells, and weak narration and dialogue are created by Kurt Hathaway. The dialogue and narration are differed by the shape and color of their balloons. This is okay, but it would be better if their fonts were different. The editorial notes stand out because they employ lower case letters. The scene settings are atop blue rectangles, catching the eye whenever they appear. The sounds in this book are spectacular, with GRRR!, KSSSHHNNG!, POP, and WHUMP outstanding. The weakened narration and dialogue font adds to the distressed state of the thinker/speaker. Overall grade: A

The final line: A solid introduction to the hero and the creature, ending with a possible rebirth. The story is good, the action great, and the visuals strong. Zenescope, you’ve got me following yet another title. Fun fantasy adventure with a crimson twist. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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