With its combination of quick-paced action, quippy dialog, and genuine friendship between its two vampiric leads, BLOOD BROTHERS rushed out the gates with fangs bared in what could have easily been a throwaway parody but instead proved to be something above and beyond a mishmash of genre tropes. Unfortunately much of the goodwill earned from a fantastic first issue is spent on a sophomore outing that sacrifices charming character interaction for the sake of advancing a paint-by-numbers plot.
Nick and Tree are back in action, chasing a lead across Las Vegas rooftops in the hopes of learning where Nick’s girlfriend, Jill, was taken after her kidnapping at the end of Blood Brothers #1. Their hunt takes them from the rooftops to a vampire support group to a mansion on the outskirts of Vegas. And while the boys only manage to save the girl through teamwork, the duo find themselves parting ways by the end of the issue as Nick goes off in search of a man by the name of Marcus–the very same man who turned Nick into a vampire all those centuries ago. And Tree stays behind in Vegas…for reasons.
While MIKE GAGERMAN and ANDREW MILLER’s script continues with a fun, brisk pace, it quickly becomes apparent that there was some struggle to fit every beat into a trim 22 pages. For example, Nick had spent much of the first issue struggling with how he was going to “come out” to Jill, but the matter is quickly resolved in this issue despite Jill’s initial, and wholly natural reaction to learning that a) vampires are real and b) that her loving boyfriend happens to be a bloodsucker himself. The first half of the issue is on par with Nick and Tree’s back-and-forth interaction in Blood Brothers #1, but it is precisely when Jill is shoehorned into the mix in the later half of issue #2, with her thick, smarmy zingers, that the comedic charm turns to ash. It may be Gagerman and Miller managed to create a natural banter that worked so well between Nick and Tree that the introduction of a third voice throws that balance off–perhaps it’s even well-suited to Jill’s character. Unfortunately it simply doesn’t help and detracts from the humor so much that it takes several pages for the script to recover, eating into precious panels and pages needed to really drive home that these two broskis are leaving each other’s side for the first time in a very, very long time.
Fortunately, Evan Shaner continues with wonderful character and panel work that really help boost some of the shortcomings in the script, and may very well have salvaged it. He again manages to convey a lot of emotion in chaotic, face paced moments with his facial designs and body positioning, especially during the VampAnon scene. And his panel work keeps a bloated script from pouring into the third issue, with single panels doing the work of several, especially during the pair’s nearly botched rescue attempt and subsequent getaway through the Nevada desert.
Blood Brothers #2 isn’t perfect by any means, especially after such a well-delivered first issue. It does manage to keep the fun factor high despite some of the jokes and dialog taking a bit of a drop in quality in the later half, and certainly bounces back just in time for a strong finish.