The Perhapanauts: First Blood (Dark Horse)

A wise-cracking Chupacabra and his equally bizarre cohorts investigate the paranormal in this collection by Todd DeZago and Craig Rousseau.

The cover to First Blood, the first Perhapanauts collection(Dark Horse; 128 pgs FC; $15.95)

(W: Todd DeZago A: Craig Rousseau)

On the surface, The Perhapanauts seems slightly similar to Mike Mignola's Hellboy spinoff BPRD, as it stars a team of paranormal agents who happen to be paranormal themselves. The characters even seem a little derivative at first: a psychic, an enigma, a ghost, a Bigfoot, and a Chupacabra playing the role of comic relief. But stepping out from the premise, The Perhapanauts: First Blood, which collects the series' inaugural 4-issue miniseries, is a book with a lot of charm and just enough originality to recover from a few potentially major setbacks.

 

Plot-wise, the book is solid but simple: the agents hunt monsters of myth that are lesser known than simple vampires or werewolves. Sadly, the pacing is extremely jarring; the first plot takes two and a half issues, while an odd backup fills the rest of issue three, where another team of agents is explored and then abandoned. A compelling love story is only briefly explored and then immediately ignored. Even worse, the final issue of the collection ends on a cliffhanger. Still, the book makes up for its shortcomings in its execution, thanks mostly to the character of 'Choopie', the Chupacabra. Although sometimes a bit much, Choopie helps add an element of humor to an otherwise dark book and drives the series' best story in the final issue. Here, Choopie takes center stage to prove his humanity and turn his back on his vampiric ways, and it's tales like these that prove this book could warrant a strong ongoing.

Even with the great stories, the real reason to tune in is the art. Craig Rousseau lacks some skill with backgrounds, but his clean, detailed style-evocative of Mike Mignola-really stands out. He gives the characters each their own distinctive look, while performing comics' most underrated task: drawing good monsters. His storytelling is very solid and it's the mesh of his charming art and writer Todd DeZago's strong characterization that make this book a solid purchase.

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