The Blood Rider #1 (Free Lunch Comics)

bloodrider-header.jpgA straightforward Charles Bronson revenge story in a western setting with an undead twist.





24 pgs., B&W, $3.50

(W: Mark Tarrant; A: Matt C. Ryan)


As much as I love comic books, I have to admit that sometimes I get a little frustrated with the uninspired concepts and story ideas I see on the magazine rack at my favorite comic book stores. To say that comic books are often cliché is almost a cliché itself. Perhaps two of the most well-worn clichés in comics are westerns and vampire stories. Everyone and their grandma seems to have an idea for gunslingers or blood suckers. So, what would happen if you combined these two genres? Well, you get Free Lunch Comics’ The Blood Rider, written by Mark Tarrant and drawn by Matt C. Ryan.

The cover to The Blood Rider. Click for a larger image.The Blood Rider opens up as a young man named Ezekiel Carson rides into the historic American West with his bride and family to start a new church to spread the Word to Native Americans and Mexicans. Everything is bright and hopeful until some bandits attack, killing Ezekiel’s family and leaving him for dead. The end seems near when a band of vampires comes upon Ezekiel’s family and feeds on what is left of them. But the leader of these vampires finds the barely alive Ezekiel and has pity on him, and, instead of feeding on him, turns Ezekiel into another vampire so that he might have revenge on the bandits that killed his family.

This first issue of The Blood Rider is a classic origin story and does not get a chance to get too far along into a serious plot. But writer Mark Tarrant does a good job of laying a sound foundation to springboard future stories off of, introducing his characters and setting up the dynamics of how the characters interact with each other. The dialogue isn’t Shakespeare by any means, but definitely has the feel of a gritty old western. Tarrant also chooses to use the classic standards for vampires, meaning that they burn in the sun, flee from crucifixes, and are not fond of holy water. After seeing so many new variations of deeply philosophical or love struck vampires in recent times, it really was nice to see good old fashion blood-sucking vampires. Vampires used to be bad guys, and Tarrant makes the point to show just how inhuman they really are.

Matt C. Ryan does a fine job with the artwork on The Blood Rider. His crisp black and white drawings are full of life and depth. There really are never any static moments in the whole book. With much of the action taking place at night, Ryan’s use of shadows and shading adds much to the noir feel of the story.

The best part of The Blood Rider is that it’s fun. It doesn’t try to get too deep too fast or try to over-complicate the storylines right away. It gives you a straightforward Charles Bronson revenge story in a western setting with an undead twist. The next time you are mulling over the magazine rack at your local comic book store and are in the mood for something new, try giving The Blood Rider a read. | Ryan Parker

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