Needless to say, Vault’s latest release gets me. Ignoring the hook of a vampire ninja tale for a second (a feat, I know), series creator Hiroshi Koizumi delivers a fun world that somehow blends Blade Runner’s cyber noir visuals with touches of Daywatch’s sci-fi horror in an accessible way. Like any good noir, Bleed Them Dry #1 covers existential musings, the clash of the ancient with modern, Western and Japanese cultures, with a traumatized detective trying to make sense of it all in Harper Holloway. And, of course, vampire ninjas.
Set in the year 3333, Issue #1 follows Holloway and dashing partner Atticus Black in the middle crime scene. Someone, or something, has been murdering converts in the city state of Asylum, an engineered city where humans and immortals co-exist peacefully. Well, apart from the string of vampire murders plaguing the city. With few leads, Holloway is more than shocked when Black brings the vampire slayer to justice. Turns out, Black has his own agenda, and the real killer may very well have saved Holloway’s neck.
Artist Dike Ruan does great work translating Koizumi’s expansive vision into the medium. Ruan’s art, reminiscent of manga but thoroughly American styled, captures a dark deep future in wonderful landscape panels of Asylum. Through it, Asylum acts as a silent character, whirring in the background but always present.
There’s a certain accessibility to this future, one without the overabundance of vaporwave aesthetics and holo-projections. Yet, I can’t help but feel disappointed that technological advancements aren’t showcased here. Harper’s use of a tablet for instance offers a great opportunity to elevate the tech, but feels a little too now.
Perhaps because the focus of the series deals mostly with the meeting of two worlds and cultures. Still, thoughtful details like that would ground us in the year 3333. I suspect, however, Koizumi and team have an answer for that in later issues.
Eliot Rahal, series writer, establishes clear voices with these characters and paces the comic well. Readers get plenty of fun moments to balance out Harper’s gritty, troubled detective that elevate her from stereotype to thoroughly human. I’m vested in the mystery, wanting more of a Harper and more behind Atticus Black’s motivations.
Harper doesn’t begin as an immediate badass. Like the reader, she navigates this world thoroughly aware of her human limitations. That doesn’t stop her from rushing into danger, though. The question is how she’ll adjust to a world of vampire ninjas after her? Is she along for the ride, charged with taking them down? Or will she get a more active role? My hope is for the latter.
Bleed Them Dry #1 is created by Hiroshi Koizumi, written by Eliot Rahal with art from Dike Ruan, colors by Miquel Muerto and letters by Andworld. Alternative cover work is also out by Nathan Gooden. Released by Vault, you can find it on Comixology, and your local shops today, Wednesday, June 24th.