Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Relaunch continues with BLOODSTRIKE, about a government agency utilizing undead superheroes to perform black ops. The revived series is brought to readers by writer Tim Seeley with art and colors by Franchesco Gaston and published through Image Comics. BLOODSTRIKE has always been one of the major series of the Extreme Universe with the lead character, Cabbot Stone, having, literally, a long history and personal/familial ties to other Extreme mainstays such as Operation: Knightstrike, Youngblood, Brigade and the Nu-Gene terrorist, Quantum. BLOODSTRIKE #26, the first of the relaunch, is quick to re-establish the title at the core of the Extreme Universe and the scope broadens in the subsequent issues.
Cabbot Stone was the costumed hero Slingstone in the ’60s and ’70s before eventually joining the government strikeforce Operation: Knightstrike, along with his longtime rival and brother, Battlestone (Only takes 3 issues ’til their first throwdown. Nice!). Upon his death, Stone was resurrected by Project Born Again to lead the Operation: Bloodstrike field operatives. When his original team was put down for good, Cabbot carried on alone. When the series begins again, readers find Stone is still battling the cyborg forces of Cybernet, but, when threats begin to arise on multiple fronts, new Operation: Bloodstrike Director Christos Keyes is forced to commission a new team of undead agents.
Tim Seeley’s story is everything one could ask for in a first issue and just keeps it going issue after issue. Plenty of story jammed in, fluid dialogue and chock full of undead action. Seeley gives readers new and old just enough recap of Bloodstrike’s main history to get everyone up to speed without bogging down the current story. In fact, Seeley is able to flesh out the Bloodstrike operation and establish that he is moving things forward at a blistering pace. Seeley also introduces many new concepts and characters, especially villains. Sure, regular adversaries like Cybernet and Quantum are back and better than ever, but it’s the introduction of Marduk that shows the most potential. Classic monster fans, in particular, will be amped to see a battle long in the making: zombies vs…!!! Well, that would be telling. All this and political agendas too!
The perfect compliment to Seeley’s story is the pencils of Franchesco Gaston. He masterfully crafts the panel layouts with detail and creativity, bringing Seeley’s script to life (What’s the quota on undead puns?). The imagery is just fun to look out and Gaston takes full advantage of the abuse the undead can withstand. Sure, take my large intestine, I’ll just get more. Gaston’s colors do give the book a bit of a cartoonish look, but it does little to diminish the mayhem.
Seeley and Gaston combine all the classic components of the series with modern storytelling and art. Sure to please any fan looking for a fun, action packed and visually compelling story, BLOODSTRIKE will keep bringing readers back time and again (Last resurrection pun. Honest.).
BLOODSTRIKE and all Extreme Relaunch titles can be purchased at Philadelphia area comic book stores. BLOODSTRIKE #26 hits stores March 28, 2012. To find a shop near you go to www.comicshoplocator.com.