Comics Review – “Thicker Than Blood”

A three-issue miniseries sporadically published between late 2007 and late 2008, Thicker Than Blood is written by Simon Reed, with pencils/inks by Mike Ploog (known for being the initial artist on Ghost Rider and Werewolf By Night) and paints by Simon Bisley, perhaps best known for his work on 2000AD.

Given the artists’ pedigree, I was expecting good things from this book, and it didn’t disappoint. The story’s reminiscent of old-school horror, a feel which is aided by the Victorian setting, and the artwork complements the writing well; an exaggerated style is used for the human characters, verging on caricature, which gives a good visual description of their traits. While the plot’s not complex, revolving around two brothers, one of whom has become a werewolf through circumstances unknown and the other trying to cure his condition, it’s pretty well-executed. The werewolf is particularly notable as being perhaps the best-drawn aspect; of the half-wolf big muscular type (with no tail!), it’s a fairly standard design but the way he’s drawn really brings attention to the strength and ferocity of the creature.

After a strong first issue, the second part of the miniseries stumbles a little with a plotline revolving around one of the main characters becoming some kind of were-monkey; the art doesn’t seem as strong in this issue and the story is advanced little except at the beginning and end of the issue.

By the time of the third and final instalment, however, the art has reached its peak and, as I’m sure readers will be pleased to know, features the most werewolf action of the series. Much of the issue is very visually striking and it’s certainly the most memorable part. The dialogue and writing in general are also notably sharper in this issue, with the story building to a crescendo and featuring a neat little twist at the end.

Overall it’s one that I’d recommend, chiefly for the artwork though the story itself is perfectly servicable. It’s available from Reed Comics for around £9 ($15) plus shipping, with each issue available in two different covers. It’s very much a genre piece, pretty much adhering to the tropes and conventions of the classic horror style, but that’s not to be counted against it. I’ve got a number of reviews lined up that to one extent or another break the stereotypical werewolf mould, so keep an eye out for those.