Today, we are going to be taking a look at the first issue of the new comic series Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep. The series, based on the wildly popular action role-playing game of the same name, is published by Titan who released this inaugural issue on February 21, 2018.
Comic or Graphic Novel?
Let me start by clarifying that, at this moment, this is indeed a comic book, not a graphic novel. The story is given to us in chunks over several issues, unlike in a graphic novel where you get the story all in one go. I know that a lot of reviewers prefer to review a comic book series after the story is completed in the final issue but hey—I like to live dangerously.
With that being said, Titan will be releasing the Bloodborne Collection in September 2018 for those of you who like your stories all in one tidy little package.
I really don’t want to spoil this for anyone who may want to read this comic after seeing this review, especially if you haven’t played the game, so I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on the plot. If you’ve played the game, you’ll already be familiar with the basic premise of the story.
The Death of Sleep was written by Aleš Kot. This first issue introduces the reader to the nature of the Hunter’s Dream and the Night of the Hunt, both key elements of the world’s storyline. In short, the story in this issue is set in the decaying Gothic city of Yharnam. Our hero, the Hunter, wakes to find himself standing at the city’s gates. Its mutated citizens and horrific creatures, all infected with a blood-based disease, seem strangely familiar but he’s not sure why. He simply knows that his mission is to “seek paleblood” as he slaughters his way through them to a church, where he meets a paleblood child.
This is where we are introduced to one of the main factions in the world of Bloodborne, the Healing Church. We’re not given any real detail as to who this church and its members are but it’s hinted at that they’re not good guys like the name might suggest. There’s definitely a nod towards Lovecraftian mythos throughout the original game and Kot appears to have preserved this without coming right out and saying it.
Having played the game myself, I thought that the artists—Brad Simpson (color), Piotr Kowalski (line art), and Aditya Bidikar (lettering)—did a fantastic job of capturing the atmosphere of Yharnam. Kowalski’s line work in the Death of Sleep is incredibly well done. The drawings are clean and each scene flows nicely into the next. The action within each panel is obvious and I saw no ambiguities in terms of what was taking place within them. Word balloon and caption placement appear to be well-thought out. It’s very clear which character is speaking at any given point. Biditya’s choice of font used in the captions, a sort of easy-to-read Old English style, adds a nice touch to the overall feel of the comic and, honestly, the font choice just fits with the Gothic Victorian style.
The first thing to really jump out at me, though, was the color choices that Simpson used throughout the work in addition to the obligatory shades of black and grey.
As a devout horror fan, the predominant mix of muted blues with reds of varying intensity in the cover art really caught my attention because this is a color combination you often see in horror films. Seriously, the next time you watch a horror film, pay attention to the colors used. You’ll see what I mean.
This is not done arbitrarily. There is a method to a colorist’s madness and it all boils down to the psychology of color. Believe it or not, color has a subtle effect on a person’s emotions and behaviors. This is straight out of the old proverbial Graphic Design 101. Marketers have known for ages that color influences how you experience any form of visual art, whether it’s a movie, photo, comic, or graphic novel. Colorists take full advantage of this when selecting colors for their artwork.
In the cover art for The Death of Sleep, the pile of slain enemies in the foreground are all stained in red. So is our silhouetted hero in the middle-ground, for that matter. Red is a very physical color. It’s stimulating and tends to be associated with aggression, danger, war, and survival.
See where I’m going with this? *nudge nudge*
Blue, on the other hand, is more intellectual in nature. When used to color something in the environment in a film or graphic novel, it’s often to indicate the effect that environment has on the mental state of the characters. The effect intended is indicated by the intensity and value of the color. Here in the cover art, Simpson has used a muted blue for the archway that frames our hero. Obviously, I can’t say for certain what specific effect he was going for but I think it’s a safe bet to say that it’s a nod to the forlorn and broken state of Yharnam and what this might mean for the Hunter.
As we get deeper into the comic, the colors become far more vivid. They’re much, much brighter. The artist has chosen to stick with a similar palette throughout the work, only expanding it slightly to include a few yellows and oranges, all of which are well-chosen for their purpose.
I’m going to be honest here and say I don’t have a lot to say on the layout in this issue. The panels present the story in a straight-forward sequential manner and Kowalski has chosen to use splash pages to illustrate what I felt were the main transition points of the story. For example, the first splash page is the Hunter entering the gates of Yharnam, the next he’s entering an old church. To me, the reason was clear—each splash page signified a particularly important point in the story and that made perfect sense to me.
All in all, I felt that, at least in this issue, the team stayed true to the concept behind Sony’s original game. The artwork and story-line are very well executed and I’m excited to see just how the story plays out in the following issues—and by the way, I’ll be reviewing issues 2 and 3 over the next few days so stayed tuned, guys!
Writer: Aleš Kot
Artwork: Piotr Kowalski
Colors: Brad Simpson
Lettering: Aditya Bidikar
Editor: Tom Williams
Design: Wilfried Tshikana-Ekutshu
Publisher: Titan Comics
Source – Titan Comics
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