True Blood #1 (IDW Publishing) / Hotwire: Deep Cut #1 (Radical Comics)

Sookie Stackhouse and co. make their comic debut, while Steve Pugh brings back cyberpunk ghost detective Alice Hotwire.




Hotwire: Deep Cut #1 (Radical Comics)
32 pgs., color; $3.50
(W & A: Steve Pugh, from a concept by Steve Pugh and Warren Ellis)
True Blood #1 (IDW Publishing)
32 pgs., color; $3.99
(W: Mariah Huehner & David Tischman; A: David Messina)
Since I’ve become a devotee of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy I can’t help noticing the parallels between Lisbeth Salander (she of the dragon tattoo) and Alice Hotwire, star of the eponymous comic series created by Steve Pugh and Warren Ellis. Both are brilliant outsiders, stubborn as hell, disinclined to cooperate with authority figures, and attractive in a punk sort of way. Even better, both ride a motorbike and can really kick ass should the occasion demand it, two characteristics which I think should be incorporated in all female heroines from now on.
Alice has been on an extended vacation (spent mainly playing video games in her apartment, for reasons which will be revealed in this issue) from her duties as a Detective Exorcist, but she is summoned back to sort out some Blue Lights (ghosts) implicated in a multi-car pile-up. Much as the detective force resents Alice for being smarter than them (and letting them know it), they also know that she’s the best they have when it comes to Blue Lights.
This issue seems to be about half back story and setup for the issues to come and yet also manages to move at a breakneck pace. We also learn that sudden violent death can cause a person to spontaneously become a ghost (without being aware of passing through the stage of death) which makes the process of triage a lot more exciting, what with dead people getting up and walking around instead of remaining inert by the roadside. Pugh’s art is excellent as always—it reminds me of Blade Runner’s view of a technologically advanced but clearly dystopian future—and presents the world as if covered with a green-blue haze (nicely contrasted by Alice’s taste for reddish-orange clothing). I also love the detail included in each frame and the rapid shifts in point of view and scale. Anyway, the new Hotwire series is off to a good start and I’ll be looking forward to issues #2 and 3. You can see a preview here, courtesy of Comic Book Resources.
I’m a huge fan of the HBO series True Blood so naturally I was eager to see how it would look in comic book form. The first of six planned issues was released at Comic Con and boasts a murderer’s row of collaborators including series creator Alan Ball, comics artist David Messina, and writer Kate Barnow, who currently works on the television series. The first issue plunges you right into the action and includes a lot of characters all at once, which might confuse those not familiar with the series (there must be a few people left in the world which fit in that category, right?).
Anyway, it’s a dark and stormy night in Bon Temps and Sookie is taking out the trash at Merlotte’s, observed by a creature to whose thoughts we are privy even before we see him. Tara and Lafayette are working behind the bar and Jason is hitting on a girl (aptly described by Tara as a “void in a skirt”) when Sam tells the staff to go home because no one is likely to come out to eat during such a fierce thunderstorm.
We meet the mystery observer about one-third of the way through the first issue: he’s a spirit called an Imp Shaloop who was worshipped by Native Americans in the region. You may be thinking, as I was, that a town which is already supplied with vampires, shape-shifters, and mind-readers (as well as a visiting maenad) has no need for any more supernatural creatures, but I can see the logic in including this particular character in the comic because he’d put the special effects department way over budget if they tried to do him on TV. An Imp Shaloop is a big guy with lots of tentacles good at grasping and killing people (as several Merlotte’s customers soon discover) and he’s really upset about something—you’ll have to buy issue #2 to find out what. Eric Northman and Bill Compton also show up and, just as in the TV series, the episode ends on an explicit cliffhanger.
I’m generally impressed by the art and writing in True Blood: the likenesses of the TV actors are pretty good (although Jason definitely needs more muscles to make him Ryan Kwanten-worthy—who ever heard of a comic character who was less exaggerated than the real life model?) and their dialogue and attitudes are mostly right for their characters. The main problem with this issue is that it’s static: not only does not much happen, but the characters mostly stand around and talk at each other and even the action frames look like static poses. Maybe that’s a stylistic choice, maybe it will change in future issues—we’ll have to wait and see. You can see a preview of issue #1 here, courtesy of Newsarama. | Sarah Boslaugh

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