Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Publisher: Titan Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A violent tale of dark fantasy based on a hit video game franchise.
Think Underworld meets Berserk.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
A plague has fallen on the city of Yharnam, causing any living thing infected to become all sorts of terrifying beasts and beings. Even the Healing Church cannot surmise the cause of it, leaving the defense of this city to monster hunters.
Within this hellscape lies Lucien and Vivian whose father has gone in search of food. After days without eating someone comes crashing through their door. It's not their father, but a heavily-armed old man covered in blood. The two go to tend to his wounds when a massive, wolf-like monster bursts through the door. After defeating the beast, the man introduces himself as Barnabas Cade, a monster hunter, who had fallen prey to the Lady of the Lanterns, a ghostly woman whose song ensnares the hearts of men. Little do they know; the Lady is only the beginning of their troubles.
Bunn’s dialogue is dramatic and poetic. It makes the story feel grand and musical, coinciding with the story’s antagonist.
Kowalski’s thin linework and reliance on hatching for shadows greatly give the story a sense of impending doom and dread.
The gloomy, muted colors of Simpson excellently sell the melancholy and terror of the characters within this world.
JAME’s lettering perfectly follows the flow of the art and blends with the style and color palettes.
In the beginning, there are some creative uses of repetition in the layout to demonstrate the passage of time that makes a duller moment visually interesting.
A flashback section utilizes jagged, paper-like caption boxes that give the art some additional grit.
The book contains a short introduction for readers who are unfamiliar with the video game franchise, but the dialogue and story ensure the reader isn’t lost regardless.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Content Warning: This book features graphic violence that may trigger readers sensitive to that.
There could have been more contrast in the line work and color to make the bigger moments more dramatic. Some changes in line thickness, inking, or more dramatic colors could have helped keep the book fresh.
Some of the coloring could have used more contrast to distinguish characters. Certain items of clothing had similar colors to the background.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
I’m not a gamer, but I know of the Bloodborne/Dark Souls games and have always wanted to participate in some way that doesn’t require finding additional time to play. This book is an excellent choice for anyone like me.
Cullen Bunn continues to work his magic with a dark fantasy setting. The story feels like high-drama with all of the magic and swordplay one could desire but isn’t afraid to hit the streets and show an everyday person experiencing this tumultuous world. The use of children as point of view characters, giving the reader a clean look into tough choices made by every citizen. It’s an excellent introduction to the world of Bloodborne and makes me want to read further.
What truly makes this such a gloomy read is the magnificent choices by the art team. Kowalski’s linework is thin and has a shaky feel to it like the world is being held together by a few remaining strands. The colors almost seem depressed, as nothing is super vibrant and large contrasts are used sparingly. Simpson gives the characters and city additional emotional weight by casting everything in muted lighting. JAME shows off their masterful skills by swaying with the art and making some musical moments match the tone of the writing and art.
Dark fantasy and horror lovers alike will find much to love about Bloodborne: The Lady of Lanterns.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Sixth Gun by Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt
The Basilisk by Cullen Bunn & Jonas Scharf
Berserk by Kentaro Miura
If you like the art:
Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep by Ales Kot & Piotr Kowalski
Sex by Joe Casey & Piotr Kowalski
Aquila: Blood of the Iceni by Gordon Rennie & Leigh Gallagher
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Cullen Bunn (@CullenBunn) – Writer
Bunn is a master of horror storytelling and has had books published by every major comic publisher.
He is also a writer of prose having published a short story collection, Creeping Stones & Other Stories, and a middle reader horror novel, Crooked Hills.
Bunn is the founder of Undaunted Press.
Piotr Kowalski (@KowalskiPiotr) – Artist
An adept artist, Kowalski has created books for Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios and Titan comics.
He is also a cover artist, contributing to multiple books.
Kowalski is one of the few Polish artists to illustrate American comic characters.
Brad Simpson (@20EyesBrad) – Colorist
A rising talent, Simpson has colored books for Marvel, Image, Titan, and Humanoids.
He got his start coloring at the suggestion of East of West co-creator Nick Dragotta.
Simpson was a painter of landscapes before switching to comics.
AndWorld Design’s JAME (@JAMELetters) – Letterer
For 10 years, JAME has primarily lettered stories for Heavy Metal magazine but also has books published by Caliber & Titan Comics.
They are a part of Deron Bennett’s AndWorld Design.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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