Blood Work (Random House)

Kim Harrison brings the characers of her "Hollows" novels to the comics world, but only pre-existing fans need apply.


176 pgs., color; $23.00
(W: Kim Harrison; A: Pedro Maia, Gemma Magno)
Blood Work is a graphic novel which provides an origin story of sorts for the relationship between two characters from Kim Harrison’s "Hollows" series of novels: vampire Ivy Tamwood and witch Rachel Morgan. Rachel, an intern with Inderland Security, is assigned to work with the more experienced Ivy, a detective who is not thrilled at the prospect of being saddled with a beginner (sort of like Clint Eastwood in his Dirty Harry movies: remember how he growled at his newbie partner in each movie?). They butt heads at first, but then settle down to form a real partnership as they work to solve a mysterious series of murders.
I was very much at sea for most of Blood Work, not because the story is particularly complex but because Harrison seems to assume that anyone who would be interested in reading this book is already a fan of the series and doesn’t need to be provided with basic information about the world of the stories or the major characters. What I could glean is this: the series is set in a Cincinnati populated by vampires, witches, werewolves (called "weres"), trolls and the like. These nonhumans emerged out of the shadows 40 years ago "to save humanity from a deadly virus" (seriously, that’s all the explanation you get) and Inderland Security is charged with enforcing the law among them. The nonhumans include members of the same races and ethnic groups we humans recognize, and nearly everyone is really sexy and wears tights clothes. Sexual attraction and activity is bounded by neither gender nor species lines.
The story in Blood Work involves a series of dead weres who turn out to have been killed by witches (Rachel proves her worth by solving this part of the puzzle), but it’s really secondary to the complex loves and lusts of the various characters. Ivy is the kind of character I would normally be interested in—she’s a real kick-ass gal who rides a motorcycle, knows how to take care of herself in a fight, and likes to have a good time when she’s not on duty. But I found it really hard to get into her character, or anything else in this book, because my knowledge of the fictional universe is so incomplete. I hope it makes more sense if you have read some of the novels in this series, but really a graphic novel should stand alone (particularly one selling for $23) or carry a warning label on its cover: don’t buy unless you are already familiar with this series.
Two pencillers, three inkers and two colorists are credited on Blood Work, which seems like quite a few for one book. Still the art is OK, not terribly distinguished but well within the bounds of acceptability for an urban fantasy/action novel like this one. I am reviewing from a black and white proof (with a selection of specimen frames in color) so I’m hesitant to say much more about the art other than this: it’s amazing how much more impressive the same frames are in color as opposed to black and white. There are some interesting extra materials included in this volume: character profiles (including Meyers-Briggs personality types, which must be a first for a graphic novel), character sketches with comments by the author, an interview with the author, and a sequence which illustrates creation of a particular frame from the pencils through inking, coloring and the addition of dialogue. | Sarah Boslaugh
Click here for a preview of Blood Work, courtesy of Random House.

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