It’s no secret to anyone that I am utterly in love with the video game Bloodborne. Any chance I get to talk about it, I will gush for far too long, and that even tends to bleed into a larger discussion about the Dark Souls franchise as a whole. The latter have had several comic mini-series created as homage to the lore of the world, and now, finally, Bloodborne receives the same treatment. Needless to say, I’ve had this book pre-ordered since the day it became available to do so.
All that being said, it begs an inevitable question: Can it possibly live up to my hype?
The first thing to notice about this book is a detail very similar to the nature of the games: Dark Souls and Bloodborne may share a technical, functional foundation, but they are very different stories in very different worlds. It’s no different with their comic renditions. Where Dark Souls is steeped in a dark fantasy, Bloodborne is eldritch horror, and so Ales Kot (Wolf, Suicide Squad) and Piotr Kowalski (Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, Sex) set upon the task of recreating a world full of gritty, visceral detail that stands entirely on its own legs. While the series may have some inspired subscribers due to the interest of the previous Dark Souls comics, the first issue of Bloodborne is a totally new, inspired take on what the game’s world and story have set up for fans.
You enter the issue and are met with the same mystery and tension that the game offers, though this comic presents a strange new perspective that seems to suggest to the reader that they may or may not be reading an adventure about the Hunter (versus a tale of someone who is playing Bloodborne as a game still). It’s incredibly bizarre, but a pleasant surprise that adds a new layer of unknown to the story. Even after this abrupt moment passes, you tag along with the Hunter who seeks Paleblood, a supposed cure to a rampant disease that is turning people into horrific monsters. We’re presented with a new possibility of that cure, a concept that the game never offered from start to finish, in the form of a child.
Built above the terrifying landscape of werewolf-ridden streets and bloody carnage abound, there is an alien softness introduced to us through this child that feels just as creepy as the environment, though it’s so far difficult to tell why. But that is where the Bloodborne comic is as successful as the game, because you are still left with a consistent sense of looming dread and stifling tension. There’s still all the elements of the game, even in an original story that is questionably actually happening or not; the mystery, the terror, and the melancholy.
That’s right. Fair warning, Bloodborne takes place in an unforgiving world, a Lovecraftian story if ever one was represented in a game or comic or otherwise, and if you’ve read anything by H.P. Lovercraft, you know that the stories don’t tend to end well for all parties involved.
Ales Kot is able to mimic the voice of the game’s narrative in a haunting way, whether you’d be reading a novelization or a graphic mini-series like this. It seems they’ve paired quite the writer to the tale, someone with a clear love and knowledge of the game and the lore involved. Probably matched in effort, Piotr Kowalski not only draws out your fear in a literal, bloody fashion, but by the insane detail paid to recreating the setting of the game, as the environments establish the horror of the game just as much as your interaction with beasts and the evil of yet-human-characters.
My only hope going forward is that this, like Dark Souls, receives multiple treatments to comic book mini-series or ongoing books. This series is off to a great start, and that’s a diehard fan’s say-so. I’m intrigued to see where this story goes (with issue three of four out next week), and genuinely excited at the possibility of what other stories Bloodborne’s lore can inspire.
Too long, didn’t read? I rate Bloodborne #1 at 9/10 stars!
Honorable mentions: Batman #45, Infidel #1, and Mister Miracle #8.