I never read the original, short-lived "Bloodhound" series by Dan Jolley, Leonard Kirk and Robin Riggs. Running for just 10 issues at DC Comics, the book quickly vanished like so many original concepts at the time. But with a new collection published from Dark Horse, and a new 5-issue mini-series alongside it, now seemed like a good time to finally give the comic a try. Good thing, because "Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine" is pretty fantastic.
The concept behind "Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine" is pretty easy to follow. Travis "Clev" Clevenger is an ex-cop sentenced to 20 years in maximum-security prison for the murder of his partner. These days, he's out on parole to assist FBI agent Saffron Bell on various superhuman cases. Simple concept, yes, but a great execution. Set in Atlanta, Georgia, "Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine" #1 quickly plunges readers into Clev's world; a combination of trying to make good with his extended family, even as he's getting dragged off to help Saffron with tracking down criminals with superhuman powers. What's fun right off the bat is that Jolley shows how Clev -- a non-powered ordinary guy -- is able to use his wits as much as his physical strength to help stop the bad guys. His tracking down of James Gleason shows how well Clev's able to get inside the heads of the villains, and that's definitely his number one asset. I like how he deals with Gleason here, not only in finding him but trying to bring him back in one piece. It's the sort of story where you can see the authorities jumping to one conclusion, even as Clev has to dig through to find out what's really happening, even while negotiating a figurative minefield.
"Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine" #1 is both a stand-alone story and part of a larger story arc kicked off by the main plot. Jolley lets readers understand what this comic is about, wraps up all the big plot threads, but lets the smaller ones dangle and feed into the rest of the mini-series. It's a smart way to make the reader come back. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Jolley's story arc is taking a very topical idea and twisting it into what a world with superpowers would have. It's a nasty little cliffhanger, one that promises a whole lot of disasters on the horizon. Add in how well Jolley introduces us to the cast of the comic, both main and supporting, and it's a winner of a story. This is a tight and strong script from Jolley, and it bodes quite well for future issues.
It doesn't hurt that Kirk and Riggs are turning out some attractive pages here. Their panel on the last page of the comic where Clev is muttering, "Oh, sweet merciful Christ on a crutch," is drawn in a way that it reminds me of the legendary Joe Kubert, with the stringy inks on his locks of hair, the scars and scuffs on Clev's face, and the way that Saffron is whirling around so that you can almost feel the motion as she turns to face Clev. It's just beautiful. But there's so much else you can appreciate here; the way that Travis' size just looms over his niece, or the exasperated body language of Saffron when on the bench with Kelly. And when Gleason's powers activate in a big two-page spread, well, let's just say that Kirk and Riggs are giving his the horror of the moment in how the destruction and devastation rip through the area. It's an eye-catching moment, and well worth the page real estate.
"Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine" #1 was a wonderfully pleasant surprise. This book is smart and clever, and it's going to make you eager to read more. If you're like me, well, you've got a "Bloodhound" collected edition to tide you over until then. If you've never read "Bloodhound" before, then "Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine" #1 is a fantastic starting point. You won't regret it.