I fell in love with the Bloodhound series by Dan Jolley and Leonard Kirk in 2004 when it was first published by DC Comics. Bloodhound is the story of Travis Clevenger, an ex-cop in jail for murdering his partner, who is freed to be part of a federal team to track and capture criminals with super powers. Unfortunately, it only lasted ten issues.
But Clev is back in an all-new story, Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine #1 from Dark Horse Comics, on shelves as of today.
Why do I love Bloodhound so much?
Because Clev is a walking hulk of contradictions.
Clev doesn’t look smart, but he is, he doesn’t seem to have any compassion, but he does, and he doesn’t seem anything like a hero, but he behaves like one.
He killed his partner but it’s far more complicated than that and yet he still carries the heavy burden of guilt. He only reluctantly accepts the offer to get him out of prison, albeit with a monitoring device and under the watchful eye of a handler, FBI Agent Saffron Bell, who eventually becomes more of an ally and partner than a watcher.
Bell is Clev’s physical opposite, small and pretty but also fearless. “I wanted to pair him up with someone who’s his exact opposite but also someone who’s not in the least bit afraid of him and doesn’t put up with his stuff,” Jolley said in an interview at New York Comic Con this past Sunday.
The original stories were finally collected and released earlier this year in Bloodhound: Brass Knuckle Psychology. Crowbar Medicine begins an all-new story with Clev and Saffron, featuring fantastic art by Leonard Kirk. While I highly recommend picking up the paperback, the new story should be an easy jumping-on point for new readers.
Crowbar Medicine opens with Clev trying to connect with his sort-of family, including the daughter who doesn’t know he’s really her father, and the art shines as the oversize Clev, wearing a turtleneck to hide his monitoring device, builds a puzzle with the little girl. Even though the girl’s mother assures him that this is what he needs, and that he can have a normal life, Clev seems relieved to be called back into a case.
The “case” turns out to be more of a massacre, as a young man without control of his super powers has slaughtered not only the police officers chasing him but a number of children. Clev tries to talk him down but things don’t end well, and they only get worse when a scientist broadcasts a message offering everyone the chance to be approved for their own super power, so the next time a villain runs a-muck, they won’t be helpless.
If you’re thinking this sounds like a superhero analogy to the debate over gun control you’d be right, Jolley said. “Many people, including Saffron’s sister, think the world would be better if they also had super powers.” Not Jolley, who is firmly on the side that believes giving everyone guns will only make the world more dangerous, not less.
And not Clev, who views the idea as just giving many more people the ability to screw up in far more dangerous ways or, as Clev says in the issue, the scientist’s message is the sound of “the s*** hitting the fan.”
The quality of the writing and art of Crowbar Medicine is as high as in the original series, which makes sense because the entire original creative team is back.
I remember picking up the first issue from DC Comics in 2004 and thinking, “This is terrific. I wonder how many issues before DC cancels it?” That’s because new series starring new characters, particularly ones not in costume, traditionally don’t sell well in the direct market, at least not from DC or Marvel.
And, sure enough, my worst fears were realized when the original series was axed with issue #10. After, my main concern was whether Clev and Bell would be killed off as cannon fodder in some big DC mega-crossover event. Jolley, too, was worried about his creation.
“As a freelancer working on corporate properties, you have to accept that the stories you tell or the characters you write or create can be changed or altered,” Jolley said. “I could do that for everything except Bloodhound.”
Jolley exercised a rights reversion clause in his contract and eventually received the full rights to the character back. After that, Bloodhound needed just the right situation to come back, as Jolley felt the book was too little publicized during its initial run. As he’d done work previously for Dark Horse, he asked if they would be interested in an original series and once the original team was assembled, including Kirk, inker Robin Riggs, colorist Moose Baumann, and letterer Rob Leigh, they were set to go.
But this time, Jolley is hopeful that Bloodhound will not be lost in the shuffle of comics on the shelves. You can like the book’s page, Dan Jolley’s Bloodhound on Facebook, and find Jolley on Twitter as @_DanJolley. And in a fun idea for a letter column, you can send in questions for Clev himself to answer via firstname.lastname@example.org
A sample of Clev’s advice style in issue #1 of Crowbar Medicine:
I’ve been on dates with a few women lately, but none of them seem to connect. How do you know when someone is the one?”
–No Seconds for Me, Thanks.
Oh Jesus. You must’ve sunk pretty damn low to start asking me for dating advice. Did you get knocked in the head or soemth-never mind. Not my business. Here are some “helpful guidelines.” I try to follow in knowing whether someone is “the one.”
A) Make sure she’s not already married.
B) If she’s is already married, make sure whoever she’s married to doesn’t carry a gun.
C) Make sure she doesn’t have any superhuman powers. Or, at least, any you don’t already know about. Nothing screws up a night on the town like getting set on fire.
D) Plus, if she shows more gum than teeth when she smiles, she’s right out. That’s a deal breaker.