Saturday, February 15, 2014

Everything Old Is New Again AKA The Strange Saga of "Bloodhound"

This isn't a review, but if I may tell you tale about a comic with a history that is interesting to say the least, then I can almost guarantee you will be entertained by this story of convoluted copyright and minimal marketing. Plus, I will tell you the point of all this at the end.  I won't 100% guarantee entertainment, however, because if you fail to be entertained I would be a liar; anyways, let's proceed...

Chapter 1--The good comic nobody knew about
The original first issue.
The new paperback collection's cover.
The lack of a DC logo will be explained.
There once was a comic called "Bloodhound". Written by Dan Jolley and illustrated by Leonard Kirk, it was a DC comic in the mid 2000's...but not really. You see, it theoretically took place in the actual DC Universe at the time, but other than a cross-over with the comic "Firestorm" for issue #5 during the "Identity Crisis" event and a brief appearance of some other random villain, it basically could have existed in its own little world. In fact, the way DC took zero effort to promote "Bloodhound" made that essentially the case.

"Bloodhound" basically existed on a periphery of the "capes" comics. It looked at how authorities would deal with people who had powers, but didn't throw on an elaborate outfit and threaten to take over the world. No, this was serial-killers and other nasty folk who just happened to have super-human abilities, and the one man with enough skill to take them down was the titular Bloodhound, Travis Clevenger. Not super-powered himself, but utterly ripped from time spent in prison, Clevenger was an ex-cop highly talented at profiling who allegedly killed his partner (the reasons why are part of a mystery I don't want to spoil) and then surrendered himself to custody. Years went by, and when they needed his profiling skills the police came to take him out of prison, resulting in his series.
The last issue of the series back in the 2000's
This was a super-hero comic DC did with basically no super-heroes, instead being more of a crime comic. It was in the main DC Universe but not shown to be at all important. It also had basically zero promtion. Hence, we had this comic called Bloodhound that people said was great, but which got so little attention due to its coming into existence during that whole "Identity Crisis" event it may as well not have existed. It isn't surprising to hear it only lasted 10 total issues. Really, it went nine if you don't count the pointless cross-over.

Were this the late 2000's our story would have ended there, another tragic tale of a quality comic left by a big publisher to die. This is the early 20-teens though, so the story continues, and gets even more interesting.

Chapter 2--From death to rebirth
Dan Jolley worked with DC to get the rights back to "Bloodhound". He finally was able to get a rights reversion and everything original to the Bloodhound Universe was now his intellectual property. The thing was, any reference to the DC Universe had to be scrubbed from any re-printing. As Jolley tells it, that wasn't a problem as the DCU had so little to do with the comic as it was. Other than that cross-over issue and a minor villain, "Bloodhound" was its own beast. 
You won't find this in any "Bloodhound" collection,
but it's okay because you really don't need it.
Jolley went to Dark Horse, had some new Bloodhound material appear in "Dark Horse Presents" and even got a collection of the original issues (minus the 5th) published titled, "Brass Knuckle Psychology". In a sign of great writing, Issue #5 of the original DC series was so carefully done as to not be important to the main story, those reading this book would have no clue the 9 parts are missing one unimportant extra part.

Now, there is currently a new mini-series of Bloodhound coming out that picks up right where the old series left-off, although this time truly in its own universe where there are powers, but no outlandish outfits or such. The new arc is "Crowbar Medicine" and from what I've read of it, it is pretty snazzy--just like the original series.

Chapter 3--The Point Of The Story
The first issue of the new mini-series.
Travis Clevenger seemed like he would be gone forever, remembered by few, but now he's back with a vengeance. It is a strange saga indeed, but one which in the end got us some slightly-older quality comics and now some cool new ones, which leads us to answering just what my point is. 

I suppose my point is that maybe there are no bad comics, just companies that do a bad job promoting them? Nah, there are some pretty bad comics out there that get plenty of promotion.

Maybe my point is that if you let a writer and artist do what they want with limited editorial interference you'll get good works? That could be it, unless of course the writer and artist need some editorial guidance.

I think the point really is though that considering how many comics-creators have been screwed-over on ownership or seen their creations flounder in copyright limbo its good to see the occasional positive story.

Yes, that's it! "Bloodhound" was stuck in the corner of the DC Universe, basically ignored. Now, it is one of the quality comics being put out by Dark Horse and getting much more press in terms of the company's marketing and reviewers enjoying the series--both the old one and the new mini. My point is that if you treat creators right you get better results for your company and pleased creators. That's my point!  
So yes, this is a happy ending to the story of what went on "behind the scenes" in comics, and happy endings can result in some really good works!

Sadly, happy endings are all too rare, but that is a different "point" for another time.

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