Monday, 16 May 2011

True Blood #6 Review

Publisher: IDW
Writer(s): Mariah Huehner, David Tischman
Story: Alan Ball with Kate Barnow, Elisabeth Finch
Artist: David Messina
Release Date: 29 December 2010

Sookie, Bill and co. have been trapped inside Merlotte's by a demon who forces them to admit their deepest, darkest secrets because he wants to feed on their shame. At this point in the story, Sookie, Sam, Eric, Tara, Jason and Lafayette have all shared their secrets, and now its Bill's turn who reluctantly agrees to tell of how he killed an innocent midwife in 1866 shorty after he became a vampire.

I realise that this review is somewhat out-of-date now considering IDW is currently publishing its new monthly True Blood series, however I only finished reading this issue last night, after what has been an arguably difficult read to get though. While I love True Blood, it's one of the best things on TV at the moment, especially in genre TV, this first comic series based on the show for me has always been quite stiff and forced. I frequently got the impression that this comic was being released simply for the sake of it, rather than it being anything that enhanced the True Blood universe. Now, I know publishing a comic based on a TV series that is as serialised as True Blood could be difficult because of how closely linked the episodes and seasons are, but all the way through this comic series, there was nothing which I felt was gripping enough or as interesting as it could have been. Which is a shame considering that the story allowed for a lot of exploration into the characters' pasts.

However, regarding this issue, things do pick up slightly as we reach the conclusion of the story. Bill finally tells his most shameful secret and Ted the Imp Shaloop which has been holding the group hostage also lets us into his past which reveals a surprising link with Eric which allows for a dramatic attack on Eric before the group are finally released from the bar. The ending then comes (very quickly) which seems to spring out of nowhere almost as if the writers knew they were running out of time and needed to finish up. Ted agrees to let them go, but Sookie being Sookie does a bit of sticking her nose in and discovers that Ted is also fearful of another Imp Shaloop. This was one of my favourite moments of the comic because it was very true to Sookie's character, she's never afraid to confront anyone even if that person is some kind of "squid thing" and she does it with sass and attitude.

Which is one thing this comic does well - the characters always appear to be in-character, a commendable feat for this book because often in tie-in media, characters can sometimes slip into acting out-of-character due to other writers not knowing them well enough. However, everyone here acts and talks like they do on screen (although Bill's old fashionedness is often over exemplified and Tara does drop as many F-bombs as you would expect). It's just a shame everything ends as quickly as it does because just as we get some interesting information about Ted and the fact that another Imp Shaloop is after him, the story ends. Although it does so with a cliffhanger (just as the TV show always does) and I'm wondering if this will factor into the TV series or future comics at all.

How the characters look on the other hand is another matter. The art in this book was not something I ever connected with, especially with how Sookie has been drawn, I hope poor Anna doesn't see this because Sookie is draw pretty much always looking very manish. The colouring is also distracting and it does the book no favours, it's very plastic looking at times. There are flashback scenes included which are draw with much more style which vary from cartoonish to quite dark and rough. I was instantly more impressed with the art of the flashbacks than I was with the main art.

Overall, this was a book which I had, and still do after completing this issue, mixed feelings about. While I love the fact that True Blood is further being explored, I think IDW need to consider stories which actually are fun and fit with the campy, over the top nature of the show because while an interesting read which delves into the characters' pasts, this series has not being that thrilling and missed a lot of what makes the TV show good. However, if you are a fan of True Blood then I think it is worth a read even if it just serves as a filler while you wait for the new season. And as the book in its entirety is now available in Trade Paperback form you can sit down and read it from start to finish and get the whole story at once, which I think would be more beneficial to the story as it it set over one night so reading one issue each month probably didn't do the pacing of the story any favours. The artwork isn't necessarily the best I've seen, and the story is fairly weak, but I am happy that True Blood is getting the comic treatment and having more insight into the characters' backgrounds is always nice, despite the fact that I doubt anything will ever come of it on screen.

Rating: 2/5

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