Blood Tree #1
Two obsessed NYPD detectives hunt for a vicious butcher called the Angel Killer, a sociopath who preys on the innocent family members of known murderers in order to "purify" the rest of society.
From comics super team PETER J. TOMASI (Batman and Robin, Superman, Black Adam: The Dark Age, Super-Sons, Detective Comics) and MAXIM SIMIC (Escape from New York, Conan) comes a story that confronts the battle of nature versus nurture, considers how present and future generations are tainted by past generations, and asks the age-old question: Who must pay for the sins of the fathers-and perhaps even the sins of the mothers?
This introductory issue introduces Detective Azzaro, a well-meaning father who witnesses a man with wings sewn to his back fall to his death on Fifth Avenue in New York. The issue then further develops the relationship between Azzaro and his family while sometimes switching perspectives over to the man seeing the wings of people. This all culminates in another instance of someone with branches falling to their death, prompting Azzaro to investigate a new serial killer.
This book is very fast-paced, even for an oversized issue. The plot moves forward at a breakneck speed, and by the end, it seems like all the groundwork is laid. Simic’s art is very reminiscent of Phil Hester in many ways, with simple character designs that are very stylized. Unfortunately, this style leads to a lot of the characters looking the same or only rotating through a few different facial expressions to convey various emotions.
Even though a lot happens in this issue, the bigger picture is yet to be seen. We don’t know why the killer is doing this, and the characters are just as naive. Oddly enough, the solicitation for the book provides the needed context for this. Without this, the issue almost feels a bit empty. The characters themselves also aren’t developed very well. Azzaro’s dialogue is virtually cheesy and can be compared to the corny lines written for shows like CSI Miami. Tomasi is a fantastic writer, but this dialogue leaves much to be desired. This isn’t made any better by Simic’s pencils which often make Azzaro look bored with whatever is going on. This may come into play later if we figure out that Azzaro is a psychopath, but it’s just confusing for now.
This issue shines in its bigger themes which revolve around the nature of death. Azzaro’s son is seen flushing what he believes to be a dead fish down the toilet early. It’s subtly revealed that the fish is alive, but Azzaro is too lazy to fish it back out and flushes it anyway. We later run-in with a dead dog on the side of the road, where Azzaro dismisses the dog’s death as part of life and brushes it off. The issue ends with the son burying yet another family pet, and the last panel shows several different burial sites for more pets in the backyard. The concept of death is all too regular for Azzaro since he is a detective. He doesn’t even seem fazed when his wife questions the son’s actions while they watch him bury his pets. All that, combined with his willingness to flush the live fish down the toilet out of convenience, lends more credence to my theory that Azzaro is secretly a psychopath. Is the son also a psychopath, or is he just learning this behavior from his father? Either way, his actions and behavior are affecting his son and this really touches on the nature vs nurture theme. This concept is more interesting than the serial killer plot and is what hooked me by the end of the issue.
Blood Tree #1 is a fast paced oversized introductory issue that stumbles in its characterization and dialogue. This is all overshadowed by the excellent theming and bigger narrative.
Blood Tree #1: An Exploration Into Nature vs Nurture
- Writing - 6.5/106.5/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Art - 6.5/106.5/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10