Prelude: New Orleans, September 2005, a few days after Hurricane Katrina – 80% of the city under 20 feet of water, five days with no help, two thousand dead. Virgil LaFleur is a rescuer with the Coast Guard, helping to save many people but unable to save his own parents; when he tries to save his mother, he nearly drowns, but not before seeing under the water many corpses with their throats slit.
Ten years later, Virgil has kept his promise to his dying mother to look after his brother Trey, although Virgil was kicked out of the Coast Guard. Trey is now a doctor after Virgil put him through college; the only problem is that Virgil works for Simon Wolfinger’s biomed company – Wolfinger bought up a lot of land in New Orleans after Katrina to bolster his corporate empire, something that angers Virgil, as well as the insurers who refused to pay out after Katrina, citing ‘wind damage’ instead of flood damage. Virgil is ready to leave New Orleans, so meets his brother to say goodbye. The next day, he receives a visit from the cop who didn’t believe his story about the corpses under the water – Trey was killed in a gas explosion at the Wolfinger laboratories. After visiting the morgue to see the body, Virgil discovers a key in the locket he gave his brother that has been returned to him; he also returns home to find a man in a balaclava has killed his dog and is robbing his house. He chases after the man but gets knifed for his trouble. In the hospital, he gets a phone call telling him to deliver the package at midnight – Virgil is in the midst of something more complex, and he’s looking for revenge against the murderer of his brother …
This comic is a promising start to the story: it is rooted in the real world and has a strong protagonist with the necessary demons to drive him. There is perhaps enough distance from the real events to use Katrina as a backdrop to a revenger thriller, although Landry doesn’t demean what happened for the sake of a story, taking it as a very serious aspect of the narrative and using the ugly and greedy actions of men after the event as fuel for the righteous anger. However, the antagonist for the story seems rather out of place in the grounded reality that Landry and Witter create for the comic – it seems to be a cross-dressing, overweight brothel owner, who slits the throats of homeless people and drinks their blood. I know that there is a carnival approach to New Orleans, but it jars against the tone portrayed in the rest of the book, which is clearly set in the real world and dealing with real-world issues. This is something that might work better after a few more issues have allowed the creative team to cement the tone of the comic book and find the balance, which will see the creation of a ‘home-grown hero’ for New Orleans, according to Landry.
Landry is a screenwriter, so he knows about setting and dialogue and characters, which comes across in the book and it never feels too much like a script adapted to a comic book. I’ve never seen Witter’s art before, but she does a good job of keeping the comic book realistic and flowing, and her artistic illustrations are an intriguing match for the tone of the book – she is someone to look out for in the future.
Bloodthirsty #1 is a solid comic book debut – it uses its 48 pages to introduce the characters, the setting and the premise, and create enough intrigue to bring the reader back for more.