Bloodhound #4 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Catharsis

Written by: Dan Jolley
Penciled by: Leonard Kirk
Inked by: Robin Riggs
Colored by: Moose Baumann
Lettered by: Rob Leigh
Editor: Ivan Cohen
Publisher: DC Comics

I really don’t get the comic book world. Bloodhound was launched by DC Comics and received almost no advertising; essentially the first issue just showed up. There was no build-up, and a dreadful lack of marketing. This book’s a winner, and far too many people haven’t even seen it yet. Marvel and DC seem to be launching an extraordinary amount of new books lately. At least Marvel promotes the hell out of everything—with their throw everything at the wall mentality—DC though, just seems to let books sneak out. Then, if there’s substantial buzz, they may get behind the book. Neither is a path to success, in my opinion.

If you haven’t been reading Bloodhound, you’ve missed some interesting developments. Writer Dan Jolley set the series in the DC Universe, but has given it a true-life feel, and a gritty, yet almost comically violent tone. More importantly, Jolley has used the first four issues to develop the series lead, Travis Clevenger. Jolley has stayed away from what we expect in a prototypical DCU title. Bloodhound is not quite a superhero book, since Clevenger doesn’t have any powers that we know of as yet. This title is altogether different from the rest of DC’s offerings, but it has strong ties to the DC Universe. That’s a synthesis I’m really enjoying.

Bloodhound veers towards the gritty crime/drama of Gotham Central. In the end, though, it is totally unlike that book since its vicious lead has worked with the law, but far outside the normal lines. The brutal, reality of Clevenger’s character aside, Bloodhound works as a stunning portrayal of family, friends, and relationships, without being the least bit sappy. Bloodhound’s also got substantial amounts of “ass kicking.” Clevenger’s one of the toughest non-powered characters that I’ve seen, but he takes as much as he gives. This leads to some spectacular fight scenes.

Other than the fact that Jolley gave us a succinct four-part first arc, he also got us emotionally attached to Travis Clevenger. Emotional attachment to Clevenger isn’t something you would expect after he was offered an early release from prison if he helped bring down a serial killer. This dark side is the best part about Clevenger. He’s not really all that likable, yet Jolley has made us care about him. To increase our early dislike of Clevenger, we found out that he was an ex-cop, put behind bars for killing his partner. Zoiks! It takes guts to put your feature character in such a moral hole. To add to Clevenger’s dilemma, the serial killer’s next target is the daughter of the partner he killed.

Since I stated earlier that Clevenger has no visible power, you may ask: why does the F.B.I. need Clevenger? During his time on the force he had an uncanny ability for finding and bringing down metahuman lawbreakers. It’s as simple as that. Clevenger is the “Bloodhound” that the title suggests. Is there something to Clevenger’s ability? We’re not really sure. I think that’s a great question, though. One that I hope to find the answers to, as this drama plays out.

Jolley takes the time to unfurl a lot of development for the Clevenger character, and he even gets us more information about his background, and the why behind the crime that got him locked up. Jolley doesn’t dilute the early revelations, by showing Clevenger to be a complete innocent either. We are offered the “circumstances” that led to his crime. There isn’t absolution for the crime, but we are able to better understand why Clevenger did it. Kudos to Dan Jolley for taking the road less traveled.

You’d think that Dan Jolley did it all by the way this review is going. Jolley’s helped by the mind-blowing pencils and inks of Leonard Kirk and Robin Riggs respectively. Kirk has been a favorite for a long time. Can anyone forget his amazing run on JSA? Why DC ever moved Kirk off that book I’ll never know. Of course, if he hadn’t left JSA we wouldn’t have him on Bloodhound right now. So, it’s cool!

Kirk and Riggs make a fine tandem. They have captured the tragic figure of Travis Clevenger, and the wicked world he lives in with utter perfection. The fight scene between Clevenger and Edgar Morris (that’s the serial killer) is one of the most vicious, without being gratuitous, that I’ve seen portrayed in a comic. There’s a flashback sequence this month while Clevenger’s knocked unconscious. Done from Clevenger’s point-of-view solely, it’s nothing short of brilliant.

If you notice I’m going all out on the description here. I am trying to put images in your mind, hit on feelings, and get you emotionally attached to something you should be reading—that is if you aren’t already. My recent focus as a reviewer has been towards under-read titles that need more exposure. This is one of those books, folks.