Vampires Nick and Tree have been friends for over a thousand years by the beginning of Mike Gagerman, Andrew Waller, Etan Cohen and Evan Shaner's "Blood Brothers" #1. With delightful -- if occasionally crude -- humor, the creative team takes readers along for the ride as Nick and Tree inadvertently stumble into a dangerous plot. The story starts out strong with some excellent chemistry between the main characters. However, some weak characterization ultimately drags the book down, making a book with great potential end as unfortunately mediocre.
Throughout the issue, the humor is consistently on-the-nose, accomplished through witty dialogue, ironic situations and cutaway gags similar to those on "Family Guy." Whether Nick is waking up to Sheryl Crowe's "Soak Up the Sun" or remembering Tree's decision to invest in the Hindenburg, the book excels in its funnier moments. This issue is laugh-out-loud funny, but not without its more subtle humor, especially when aimed at the ever-popular vampire genre as a whole.
Unfortunately, outside of Nick and Tree and their excellently depicted friendship, the other characters don't get much development. The antagonists aren't even named throughout the issue, although the authors were not without ample opportunity to do so. Nick's girlfriend Jill received the worst treatment: reduced merely to a plot point for the rift in Nick and Tree's friendship, she appears for only a handful of pages and speaks with awkward, ungainly dialogue. Her relationship with Nick, though seen in brief, feels forced and stale. As the only female presence besides a voiceless Vegas showgirl and miscellaneous orgy members, more care could have been taken in the writing of her character, especially where Nick and Tree's boss Cedric gets more development in a shorter amount of space.
For most of the issue, Evan Shaner's zany, cartoonish style works in tandem with the book's humor and tone. He adds little hints throughout the story as winks to Nick and Tree's history, from Nick's "Not a Morning Person" mug to the period portrait of them hanging on the wall of their apartment. His attention to detail really enhances the book's story, like contrast of the religious imagery in Cedric's office to his scummy personality. However, some of his character work wasn't quite up to par. For example, one of the antagonists -- who is said to be undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer -- doesn't come across as ill or dying, removing the sense of urgency from his plea to be made a vampire. Aside from this, Shaner's work and Dan Jackson's colors neatly tie the issue together.
"Blood Brothers" #1 begins and ends with a laugh. Although it's a little shaky in between, the book has strong potential to become a solidly enjoyable comic -- perhaps even one of the funniest of the year. Unlike the Hindenberg, this issue may be a solid investment after all, granted that the characterization continues to improve as the story progresses.