Is Ides of Blood #1 your usual vampire fare? BlueStreak doesn't think so! Click to find out why Ides of Blood rises above the usual vampire rabble!
Credits & Solicit Info:
The year is 44 B.C. Julius Caesar has conquered Transylvania, and vampyres are Rome's new slave class. But when rich mortals start turning up dead with fang marks on their necks, Valens, a vampyre slave-turned-Roman soldier, plunges into the blood-soaked underworld of Rome to capture the Pluto's Kiss Killer. If he can prove himself, he'll earn rank and riches beyond what anyone this side of the Tiber has ever seen! But if he fails, he just might find himself on top of the pile of bodies!
Don't miss this crimson-red, 6-issue thriller that mixes the undead intrigue of True Blood with the brutal Roman action and political drama of Spartacus from newcomers Stuart C. Paul and Christian Duce!
Vampire books are more populous than teenage girls at a showing of Twilight. There’s books about Alaskan vampires, mutant vampires, flamboyant vampires and With all the vampire books out there, it takes something unique and interesting to really captivate readers to pick up a new story featuring bloodsuckers. Luckily, Wildstorm has found a new way to tell a vampire story in Ides of Blood #1.
Written by Stuart Paul and illustrated by Christian Duce, Ides of Blood is a vampire thriller that weaves vampires into the culture of Rome during the reign of Julius Caesar. The background is simple enough: during Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, he conquered the Transylvanian kingdom of Dacia, which was populated by vampires. The vampires were enslaved and became a third class in the Roman hierarchy. One year later, Valens, a vampire praetorian loyal to Caesar, is called to investigate the murder of a high-ranking Roman official killed by vampires. Meanwhile, the infamous conspirators against Caesar begin to gather as the Ides of March approaches.
Stuart Paul does an excellent job of keeping Ides of Blood #1 from becoming a standard vampire story. He successfully intertwines politics, Roman culture and vampire mythology together in a seamless manner. As a classical historian, I was impressed with how authentic the book was with its Roman background. It’s obvious that Paul did his research before writing this issue. From the invocation to Janus at the beginning of the issue to the mentions of the historical Transylvanian kingdom of Dacia (actually conquered by Trajan in 106 AD), Paul steeps Ides of Blood #1 in Roman history. Furthermore, Paul focuses on the political impact of vampirism instead of the usual vampire themes found in most vampire literature. Paul also uses his narration to great aplomb, using prose that harkens back to the narration of 300. His characterization of Valens is particularly strong. Paul portrays the praetorian as a noble spirit loyal to Rome and outcast among his own people for forsaking the bloodlust that curses all vampires. Valens is a compelling character that is sure to be fascinating to follow for the rest of the story.
However, the writing isn’t perfect. Most of Paul’s other characters, save Caesar himself, are one note, and he spends little time giving background on the vampire’s society. Readers will have to connect the dots on figure out exactly what the Vrykolaka Res Publica is and its connection to the main plot. Paul’s other major flaw in the issue is the dialogue, which occasionally makes the Romans sound like modern people instead of men and women from another time and era. The dialogue bounces back and forth from colloquialisms such as “Jupiter’s balls!” and “by Neptune’s arse!” to having characters sound like they’re living in the modern day. However, despite these flaws, Stuart Paul delivers a strong first script that reads more like a Roman political thriller than a typical vampire story.
Christian Duce’s strong art compliments Paul’s writing. Colored in tones of deep red, Duce’s art portrays a feeling of dread and foreboding that is prevalent throughout the issue. While the art is occasionally shaded too heavily and some of pages have one panel too many, Duce keeps the story moving efficiently and keeps the reader’s focus on the engaging story unfolding on the pages.
Ides of Blood #1 is a great first issue that deserves the praise of Caesar himself. Mixing political thriller with historical fiction, Ides of Blood #1 is a great alternative history story with a dash of vampirism. If you’re looking for a vampire book that isn’t your usual teenage angsty affair, I highly recommend Ides of Blood #1.