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Bloodhound #1
writer: Dan Jolley
artists: Leonard Kirk and Robin Riggs

Call me old-fashioned, but it disturbs me that we allegedly need "…a new DC." That means books set in the standard DC Universe, but rougher, edgier, perhaps with their morality not so clear. Of course, such books have existed before. Suicide Squad, L.E.G.I.O.N. and definitely Lobo and Hitman weren't exactly books your mom would buy for you at the corner drugstore. Not that anybody buys comics at the corner drugstore anymore. Nyeh.

Okay. Old man rant out of the way.

This week, "the New DC" launches with Bloodhound. Moral quandaries aside, it's a well-done book with an intriguing main character. It may also be a little bit alienating, as so far, there really isn't much to like in Travis Clevenger, the man who will be known as Bloodhound. Yet there are hints that he was justified in his crimes; though the book is for the new DC, it's a throwback to prison dramas of the late sixties and early seventies. Either Burt Reynolds or Joe Don Baker in their heydays could have played Clevenger.

Writer Jolley throws us right into the thick of it, with Clevenger being interviewed in prison. Once a rather doughy police officer, time in the big house has hardened Clevenger. The man outside, glimpsed in a photo i.d., barely resembles the man inside. And why wouldn't he toughen up? Though a killer, Clevenger still hates criminals, and worse, he has a knack for tangling with those that have meta-human abilities but haven't necessarily advertised it.

So Clevenger killed a man. From the flippant tone of his interview, you might even assume he killed several. He will give no answers as to why, but what horrifies the authorities is that it was his former partner. What has brought him to the brink of amnesty from the F.B.I., however, is a horror greater than him.

But first - the prison riot…

With far more force than he demonstrated in the first issue of Firestorm, Jolley completely sets up the character and situation while still allowing for some mystery. We don't just have a sense of who Clevenger is, we learn full well what he does, and why we might buy his book for a few issues. Though the story ends with a "…to be continued," there's still a sense of satisfaction; we got a complete bang for our buck.

Much of that bang comes from the artwork, reuniting Kirk and Riggs. They'd already proven themselves a solid team on the late Supergirl book, but their art fits better here. Despite their layout skill, nobody ever quite looks attractive in their panels, which is more than okay when depicting the dregs of society.

They draw tough beefy men well, and it's a key skill for this book. And for guys who have danced around the more subtle, family-friendly flagship characters as much as they have, Kirk and Riggs sure can handle raw violence.

Bloodhound won't be a book for everyone. It's definitely tough, if not quite as edgy as it wants to be. Don't count on Clevenger every coming close to being a role model, either. He may have a soft spot, but somehow you get the feeling that he'll use a scouring pad to roughen it up a bit over the next few issues.


Derek McCaw

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