Bloodstrike: Brutalists (#0, #23 – 24) – Michel Fiffe

3 out of 5

As a “gotta collect ’em all” Fiffe fan, and as not a 90s Image fan, it’s kind of weird to recognize that he was greatly inspired by that scene.  …One of many, of course, and it actually makes complete sense when considering his other, more “classic” comic obsessions are very art-driven and that was certainly Image’s original shtick, but that era / type of book is covered by a dim pall of judgment in my mind, that to see a creator I admire have non-ironic love for it is still hard to reconcile.

And in case there was any doubt of that non-irony, Fiffe’s filling in of some missing issues in the original Bloodstrike run (plus an origin issue, which they apparently never got) is done straight: it absolutely looks like Fiffe, but he’s got the 90s jibber-jabber and big action down pat.  He even brought in pals like Chuck Forsman and Paul Maybury to do pin-ups and previews of other books from an imagined (re-imagined?) Fiffe-led Extreme Comics reboots…  There is undeniable love there.

Which can undeniably be felt in the energy in these issues, and is clearly spoken to in the editorial bits in the back in which Fiffe high-level outlines the different eras of the Bloodstrike book and to what he hopes to be paying tribute, but – perhaps by design – that doesn’t make it something, as a non-Image guy, I can particularly get into.

The story is what it is: an odds and ends wrap-up, mostly centered around Bloodstrike’s (a team of continually brought-back-from-the-dead heroes) leader, Cabbot, and his foggy-memoried attempts at keeping his continually fractured team together, but there’s hardly any character work or story elements for a complete newbie to latch on to.  Toward the end of the last issue of this mini, Fiffe turns on the magic, staying focused on a showdown between Cabbot and an ex-teammate and delivering some worthwhile narration and dialogue that gives the Bloodstrike world the dash of humanity I would’ve preferred, but I recognize there wasn’t time to do something like that elsewhere, especially when you’re more directly trying to mimic an Image m.o.  Again, though, even factoring that in, I had a hard time seeing the “hook” of the books; they feel more like a “gee, that’s a cool idea” comic more than something that makes you want to reread it.

Not a regretted purchase, as it was a cool idea, if only to “feel” Fiffe’s zest for the title and to see his particular artness wrapped around other characters, but it’s bottom of the list of prime Fiffe behind too many way more awesome issues of Copra.

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