Thursday, September 14, 2017

Blood Pack #1 (1995)


Blood Pack #1 (March, 1995)
"All Shook Up, Episode One"
Writer - Charles Moore
Penciller - Christopher Taylor
Inker - Andy Lanning
Colorist - Scott Baumann
Letterer - Chris Eliopoulos
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $1.50

This is the truuuuuue story of seven Metas picked to live in a house and have their lives taped (twang) Find out what happens (what?) when Metas stop being polite (will you get the phone?) and start getting real....ly lame!

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We open with several of our New Blood friends locked in battle with one of them Bloodlines Parasites... ya know, the ones who mess with your marrow and what-not.  The Blood-Packers present are Mongrel, Loria, and Ballistic... annnnnd, they're not terribly successful.  Luckily, it's all a simulation!  The Blood Pack's got their own version of the Danger Room.  Worth mentioning that there are some floating yellow "camera balls" picking up all the action.  Loria winds up "killing" the Sim-Beast, only after the Sim-Beast kills both Mongrel and Ballistic.  After the exercise, Ballistic chats up Mongrel... they're both digging on Loria, though both realize they haven't a prayer of getting with her.  Ballistic pinches Mongrel's cheek... which causes him to absolutely lose it!


We shift over to see what the "External Cams" are picking up... and we meet Geist and Nightblade.  They're talking about their new lives as superheroes, and we learn that 'blade is trying to live up to his legendary NASCAR driver father.  Oookay.  Their chat is interrupted by their Director, Adrian Zapruder... oi... who tells them that their chatty-Cathiness is going to kill them in the ratings.  And so, Nightblade chops off his right hand (!) and regrows it... to give the audience a more "visual" scene.  Zapruder loves it, but doubts he can get it past the censors.  Ohhh, Blood Pack is a television program!  I get it now!


Next, we check in with the "cheesecake cam" which is hovering in the room of Blood Packers Razorsharp and Sparx... both dressed rather immodestly.  Razorsharp ain't pleased with the Producers' idea of wardrobe... claiming that it's "too hot" for a documentary.  When Sparx gets on her about being less-than-friendly, 'Sharp nyoinks her into the closet to show her some skeletons... er, in her closet, that is.  Um, she's got a criminal past, I guess.  I'd also guess she wasn't a very good criminal, as she forgets to close the closet door all the way, and the camera picks up the entire conversation.  Whoops.


We next jump to the Producers' "office".  We meet Mr. Jeremy Baxter... and he's surrounded by monitors featuring other stakeholders in the project.  They're a bit trepidatious that they will not be able to control the Blood Pack for the duration of the program... and also worry about their Q-Ratings.  Baxter tells'em to settle their tea kettles... because he's got dis.


We rejoin the fellas from earlier... now it's Ballistic giving Mongrel chase.  Guess he didn't like getting blasted in his deformed (and probably difficult to shave) face.  They wander into the Omega Sector... which is evidently a no-no.  They are suddenly swarmed by a "Sweeper Team" that pulls them out of this off-limits area.  Here we learn that Ballistic used to be a police officer... unless, of course we learned that during Bloodlines... 


Okay, with all the "action" out of the way... let's join our team at rest.  They're all lounging in their bunker-den-family room thing watching TV.  They are soon joined by their new "trainer"... Jennie-Lynn Hayden, Jade!  Ya see, she's an actress and the daughter of the original Green Lantern... so, who betta?  She looks kinda weird here... and she's wearing this odd pea-coat style dress, which makes it look like her nipples are showing.


She tries introducing herself, but gets a bit of static in return.  These new "masks" (which is apparently what the world is calling new superheroes) would rather just bicker with one another and watch TV.  Masks these days, I tells ya!  Actually, Geist seems to wanna chat, but he gets ignored... seems like that's gonna be his "thing".  Anyhoo, Razorsharp flips channels for the one-billionth time and comes across a news item on... them!  Holy Spit!  Let's just say the reaction of a Metahuman reality show is met with is kinda mixed.  Superman doesn't think it's a great idea... neither do a pair of time-lost Legionnaires (at least I think those are supposed to be Legionnaires).


We shift scenes to... a nuclear reactor in Germany... where, I guess Blood Pack TV already has cameras set up and waiting?  Holy Maxwell Lord... did Blood Pack TV set this entire thing up???  Anyhoo, it's here that we finally meet some baddies... and wouldja lookit that, it's our pals the Demolition Team!


The team (well, both teams) leaps into action, with Razorsharp and Geist breaking off to check something out... and learn that maybe this isn't a completely staged encounter.  There is a sudden Earthquake that wipes out both the Packers and the Demos... and the nuclear reactor begins to open!


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While certainly not my cup of tea, I gotta say that this wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  Actually, to be fair... it's not so much "bad" at all.  It's a product of its time, yes... while at the same time actually a fair amount ahead of its time... you follow?

In [current year] It's hard to even remember a time where our televisions weren't infested with reality programming... but, this was all the way back in 1995!  In case my synopsis didn't make it clear, Blood Pack is a reality television program... from a time where there was very little of that garbage on our actual TV's!  It's very clearly chasing The Real World... otherwise known as Patient-Zero in MTV's spiral into unwatchability.  In that regard, I think this was a success... or at the very worst, an earnest failure.

We've got several strong personalities at play here... which works.  This Blood Pack is a team that each member had to audition to be a part of.  You've got to imagine that Producers and Execs would want there to be a great deal of interpersonal tension in the cast.  They're not supposed to "work well" together... this entire endeavor is predicated in putting together a compelling television program.  If they lose in their "Danger Room"... that's good for ratings!  If Razorsharp and Sparx start wrestling in a closet, even better!

Can't believe I'm saying this, but it's really not a bad idea!  It's all handled pretty well too.  We get to meet the team, and learn a (little) bit about them.  Seeds are planted, and we even get to see them in their first (semi-orchestrated) outing.  We even meet some behind-the-cameras types... and learn that their might be a bit more than meets the eye there.  The more I'm writing, the more I'm convincing myself that I liked this.  I really ought to stop!

Ah, I know... let's talk art.  It's... not bad, but nothing to write home about.  Some of the characters have iffy designs already, and do not come across looking all that great here.  Gotta say, Jade looks particularly atrocious here, nipple-suit and all... that might have more to do with the inking and shading though.

Overall... yeah, not bad.  I feel like if this were to come out in 2017, I'd cringe myself into a coma... but, for a mid-90's book?  Not bad at all.  I'd even go as far as to say it's worth checking out.  It's not likely to rock anybody's socks... but I think there's a decent time to be had here.  Not shockingly, this is not available digitally... though, if you find a cheap-o bin (probably any cheap-o bin) you've got a pretty good chance of tracking this down.

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(Not the) Letters Page:

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