Black, White, and Blood: Are They Worth Reading?

Perhaps the biggest complaint when reading comics is that most stories require you to have read several series beforehand. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable, and it’s what makes it so hard for beginners to enter the comic world without being completely lost. However, that denseness and complexity are what I would argue makes comics so fun once clearing such a colossal hump. Regardless of what you think about this aspect of comics, recent titles called Black, White, and Blood from Marvel have taken this aspect out of reading comics, as well as give veterans something new to sink their teeth into. Yet, the stories aren’t always connected to the main universe and are loosely related to the characters the titles follow, so what’s the big deal about them?

At first glance, the main appeal of these comics is the art style, done mostly in black and white, with red being the only other color for highlighting blood and gore. Due to that, the series tends to focus on violent characters, with Wolverine, Carnage, and Deadpool being the first three to find themselves receiving a brief run under the Black, White, and Blood titles. And to be honest, I’m a fan. Black and white art generally preserves detail more so than colored art. It’s simple, and more importantly, it works with these characters. However, these comics are done in an anthology style, containing three, four, or maybe even more stories within each issue done by different creative teams, meaning that opinion of artwork can change from story to story. Trust me, no matter how you feel about the art theme, it’ll vary somewhat depending on the artist.

Looking past the initial response from the artwork, the reader is pulled into a series of events that might have happened or might not have. For example, in the first issue featuring Carnage, Cletus Kassidy was a pirate and captain of “The Carnage,” coming across a ship captained by Eddie Brock, referred to as “The Venom.” Then, in Wolverine’s issues, we see the character wandering the wilderness, coming across bars, and killing thugs while Deadpool is stealing an old (terrible) movie from a crazed dictator with the world’s largest movie collection. So, a lot is going on in these issues, but who really cares? I mean, it’s not like it’s taken as literal stories or events that have taken place in the characters’ histories, but rather, they’re just little stories for fans to sit back and enjoy. These comics tend to focus on fun more so than award-winning writing, with one of many examples being one of Carnage’s brief stories being constructed like a D&D game, requiring the reader to roll a die in order to move through the story.

So, the stories are short, fun, and generally bloody due to the characters, but does that make them worth reading? Well, I think there’s an awkward gap here for more “moderate” comic fans, and it also depends on the particular character. These issues provide novice fans with an amazing opportunity to introduce themselves to new characters and forms of writing within the medium. Then, hardcore fans of a certain character are given even more reading material covering their favorite characters. To help explain more clearly, I’ll use DC’s Superman: Red, White, and Blue, their version of the Black, White, and Blood comics as an example. The comics give readers who have never really read Superman an outlet to introduce themselves to the character without worrying about being lost in Action Comics or the current Superman run. Then, those who already read those two titles monthly, are given more to read, but those like me (who have added both Action Comics and Superman to their pull) can generally find themselves preferring to pass on these series.

Maybe it’s just me, but I love the current, main two Superman series, and Red, White, and Blue simply didn’t stick with me because I wasn’t obsessed enough with the character to read them. I was satisfied with the runs I was reading, and the same was the case for me with Carnage’s Red, White, and Blue comics. Carnage is perhaps my favorite Spider-Man villain, but there’s only so much you can do with the character since all he does is kill and eat people for no other reason than provoking chaos. Plus, the issues released just after the conclusion of Absolute Carnage, sandwiched between that event and the current, exponentially smaller, Extreme Carnage event, giving me my fill of Carnage. These issues aren’t must-reads as an effect of their looseness to the main comic universe, and when I find myself reading a plethora of comics with the same protagonists, I tend to lose interest.

However, I genuinely enjoyed the Wolverine and newest Deadpool issue. Wolverine is perhaps my favorite Marvel hero besides Daredevil, and he’s the main reason I’ve been diving into the recent X-Men and X-Force titles as much as I have. So, my fascination with the character is enough to keep me interested in these issues, and as for Deadpool, I’m not that big of a fan of the character, not because I don’t like Wade Wilson, but because I haven’t read that many comics featuring him. It was fun to read his first issue under the event, giving me something new and fresh, and I have to say Deadpool probably works with this style of comic more than any of the other characters mentioned in this article. But with all this being said, does any of this mean these comics are worth reading or not? Well, the short answer is “yes but no.” It simply depends on the reader, and if you’re a new comic reader, then one hundred percent give them a try and expose yourself to new things. However, for the more moderate fans, read them with the expectation of possibly putting them down after a few issues. From what I’ve seen, most only like the comics featuring a character they either know nothing about or are horribly obsessed with. There’s just not enough to these comics to keep “moderate” fans interested and seem to only serve the two opposites of the comic industry.

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