Bleed Them Dry: A Ninja Vampire Tale #1 Is a Sleek and Bloody Debut

A man in a white shirt and black jacket holds a katana. A woman's face hovers in the background

The year is 3333 and immortals walk among us — except for the six that have been found dead, confirming that there is a serial killer in our midst. Up until then, vampires and humans have coexisted amicably. Now Detective Harper Halloway and her partner, Atticus Black, must solve the case of the vampire slayer in Bleed Them Dry #1, but, of course, there’s a much deeper mystery at play.

Bleed Them Dry #1

Andworld (letterer), Hiroshi Koizumi (creator), Miquel Muerto (colourist), Eliot Rahal (writer), Dike Ruan (artist)
Vault Comics
June 24, 2020

A man in a white shirt and black jacket holds a katana. A woman's face hovers in the backgroundBleed Them Dry #1 gets to the point very quickly, packing a lot into this first issue, without weighing everything down with lore and exposition. It’s a bit unnerving at first, but it’s not too difficult to catch up with what’s going on in the mega city of Asylum and the state of affairs between vampires and humans. For the most part, that relationship between humans and vampires has been peaceful and both groups are treated with respect, however, killing a starved vampire that tries to kill you might result in some additional paperwork if you’re working in law enforcement. A serial killer hunting vampires? Well that’s even worse.

The issue opens with police and detectives on the scene of a murder of a vampire and the speculations that this murder brings. Here we meet Detective Halloway. She comes off as a bit inexperienced when navigating the case and vampire/human relationships with her suave partner, but Eliot Rahal writes her with an underlying strength and a quiet sense of “she’s seen things” that promises that there is more to her than what we’re seeing thus far. Her partner, Black fulfills the typical role of suave, well-connected and experienced killer with a sharp blade that hides many secrets. Just what those secrets are and where they lead takes a significant turn within the very first issue. As for the other person that appears on the cover of this issue? Well, that’s just one more level of mystery that Rahal parcels out at just the right time.

Dike Ruan’s art is focused and expressive, with detailed characters dominating panels where backgrounds are often forgotten. There is a lot of attention paid to expressions, as well as hair, with Halloway’s noodly locs and Black’s sleek white crown. When the backgrounds switch to the cityscapes, that’s when panels truly shine. Supported by Miquel Muerto’s soft, glistening colours, Ruan’s skyline silhouette is simple and to the point, with sweeping swirls and scintillating lights against the blackness that create an ominous picture of a city with many dark secrets and desires. The simplicity is deceptive, but there are many elements in that subtlety that deserve another glance, such on the cover where blood drips upward instead of down.

Pivoting smoothly and quickly from action scenes to loud reprimands, to quiet moments, to sprawling cityscapes, Bleed Them Dry #1 doesn’t give you much time to catch your breath as it sinks you into its bloody bright lights and big city atmosphere. Through pithy dialogue and subtle clues, we get a sense of what life in Asylum is like, as well as the nature of the vampiric lore that shapes creator Hiroshi Koizumi’s world.

The issue rises to a surprising crescendo that leaves so much to imagine in terms of where this story will go next. Given the pace of how things have started, there’s no doubt that whatever comes next will be breathtaking.

Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.