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Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep #1 – A Review

Bloodborne Game

The PS4 exclusive, Bloodborne was released by Sony in March of 2015.
(image from gamestop.com)

It’s been almost exactly 3 years since the worldwide release of FromSoftware‘s Bloodborne published by Sony Computer Entertainment specifically for the PlayStation 4. The extremely well-received video game is an action RPG (or role-playing game) with a third player perspective that is set in the city of Yharnam where players play as a character known simply as the “Hunter” on his multi-faceted quest for “Paleblood” and finding an end to the beast scourge. The video game also features both single and multiplayer options. Soon to be released by Titan Comics is a new comic book series stemming from Hidetaka Miyazaki’s Bloodborne universe: Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep.

Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep #1

Cover art by Jeff Stokely
(image courtesy of Titan Comics)

The first issue of the series, Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep #1, begins during “The Hunt” with the “Hunter” making his way through the dismal, body-strewn streets of Yharnam with an odd sense of deja vu. He describes it as an unending nightmare, yet he isn’t sure if he is actually awake or asleep. As he walks the streets, he recognizes the area; the people; the beasts. After a time, he finds his way to a burning Cathedral where he is welcomed in and eventually introduced to someone who can help with his quest for “Paleblood.” Before he can leave Old Yharnam and further his quest, however, a very familiar sound and smell reaches his senses, pulling him away from his goal and into combat with an iconic foe. Keeping true to the Bloodborne inspiration, the Hunter revives in front of Doll and a man in a wheelchair (Gehrman) where he is reminded he must “seek the Paleblood to transcend The Hunt” before the loop resets and the “Hunter”, yet again, is walking the faintly familiar, dismal and body-strewn streets of Yharnam until he comes across a Cathedral and is welcomed inside.

Ales Kot, a Czech-American comic scriptwriter, known for many titles written for DC Comics (several issues of Suicide Squad), Image Comics (Wolf, Zero, and many more), and Marvel Comics (Secret Avengers and Iron Patriot) is making his Titan Comics debut with this series. Kot has been an avid player of the video game itself and even describes himself as having been “obsessed.” The story is pretty well written and seems to be a natural fit for the Bloodborne universe. However, this issue seems to be one that I could compare to a pilot episode of a new television show as it is hard to tell if the story is going to be good or not down the road, but I like the direction that it is taking so far. Kot did make one very large change to the character of the “Hunter,” though, as he gave a dialogue-less character dialogue. While I feel this change is necessary for a comic and for story progression on a written page versus on a movie screen or video game where things can progress through different forms of stimuli, it did alter the experience some for me as it gave “Hunter” more depth than the video game did.

Having worked on Clive Barker’s Nightbreed (BOOM! Studios), Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three (Marvel Comics), and The Witcher: Curse of Crows (Dark Horse Comics) among numerous other titles, Piotr Kowalski is no stranger to the horror genre of comic book illustration. I was pleased to see how well Kowalski was able to translate the images of the classic characters (such as the Blood-Starved Beast!), the decaying Gothic Revival architecture that makes up Yharnam, and even the iconic weaponry used by “Hunter” (the Hunter Blunderbuss and Saw Cleaver) from the screen to the page. There is just enough gore to get the point across and fit with the video game without having gore for gore’s sake in the comic. It is a bloody game, if you’re looking for no blood, this isn’t going to be the comic for you. However, this isn’t a “bloody gorefest” either.

Overall, I really enjoyed Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep #1 and am looking forward to reading further installments in the series. However, I do wish it were a little easier to tell who many of these characters are supposed to be – especially for people who pick up the comic without ever having played the video game! Some are easily recognizable, but others I have had to guess at and make assumptions as to their identities. The story as of yet does not follow the opening of the game and may not follow the game at all further down the line, but is a good and quick read. I feel the artwork is on point and, as I said above, the comic is essentially a “pilot,” but one I feel is good enough to at least spark conversations for both hardcore fans and new comers.

This issue is scheduled to be released on February 21st and will be available with several cover variants from Titan Comics.

Bloodborne COVER A

Cover A: Jeff Stokely
(image courtesy of Titan Comics)

Bloodborne Cover B

Cover B: Game Art
(image courtesy of Titan Comics)

Bloodborne Cover C

Cover C: Piotr Kowalski
(image courtesy of Titan Comics)

Bloodborne COVER D

Cover D: André Lima Araújo
(image courtesy of Titan Comics)

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