The Dark Blood softcover graphic novel compilation gives us a grim look at the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement. Despite this dark story though, there is hope. That hope is our main character: an ex-Tuskegee Airman who also happens to be the most powerful psychic in this world.

Dark Blood: Details

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Sometimes, the war (and superpowers) just won’t leave you alone. Main cover art: Valentine De Landro.

Dark Blood is a softcover graphic novel compilation of Issues #1-#6 of the comic book series of the same name. LaToya Morgan (AMC’s The Walking Dead, Into The Badlands) is the writer, with Walt Barna (The Osiris Path) and Moisés Hidalgo (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) as the artists, and A.H.G (Broken Bear) as the colorist. Valentine De Landro is the cover artist for the main cover art above. Lastly, BOOM! Studios are the publisher of this graphic novel, as they did with the comic books.

Dark Blood went on sale on June 8, 2022 for a retail price of $19.99. You can purchase physical copies directly from BOOM! Studios.

Warning: spoilers for Dark Blood are below. If you want to read the grim chaos for yourself, then stop here, and come back once the shooting, explosions, and telekinesis are over and done with.

Dark Blood: Plot Summary

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A black main character in 1955? I can tell this is not going to be a happy story.

Dark Blood constantly jumps back and forth in time, so I’m going to tell the events of the story in chronological order. The story stars Avery Aldridge: a Tuskegee Airman flying a P-51 Mustang somewhere over Austria in the final days of WWII. Unfortunately, a lucky burst of German flak shoots down his fighter, and he’s forced to bail out. Even more, unfortunately, lightning strikes him midfall, sets his parachute afire, and it’s only a random tree that saves him. Fortunately (or not), his captain has also been downed and so he’s not alone. Unfortunately, he’s also injured. Worse, they have Nazi soldiers hunting them now. They briefly take some prisoner in a farmhouse and meets the local farmer who’s not a fan of the Nazis, to say the least. The farmer wants to let him go, but the local Nazi officer shows up to disagree.

Said officer executes the farmer, executes the Nazis who Avery and his captain captured for getting captured in the first place, and then takes them, prisoner. After making them spend some time in a town jail, the Nazi officer then executes the captain. Avery almost meets the same fate, but a random Allied air raid saves him. He kills the Nazi officer and makes it back to Allied lines weeks later. Avery gets to return home, but some part of him will always be back in WWII.

PTSD-Based Superpowers?

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It’s never a good idea when someone stalks you. Especially when that someone has shadows for a face.

In the present day in Dark Blood, Avery is married to his sweetheart, and they have a cute daughter together. It seems like a good life he has. The only catch is that he works as a waiter/janitor in a diner where the owner is racist, and it seems most to all of the customers are too. Even the local white kids think it’s okay to barge into the diner after hours and try to stab and beat Avery to death. Fortunately, a nice doctor saves him and offers to treat his injuries. He even offers to treat his lightning injuries with some experimental drug. Unfortunately, it’s a cover for some very unethical medical experimentation into giving people superpowers.

This leads us to the beginning of the story when Avery is held up at gunpoint by some random racist white guy. Avery uses his newfound telekinesis to stop the bullets before they hit him. This freaks his attacker out enough that he dashes out into the road, and a car runs him over. The driver gets out and blames Avery for the accident, threatening to jail him. Naturally, Avery runs. He flees to his younger brother and borrows his car to get to that shady doctor. He strongarms the doctor into taking Avery to his boss, who turns out to be big into eugenics.

The police then show up and surround the building, Avery is forced to kill the boss doctor in self-defense after he tries to inject Avery with more of the drug, and lets the shady doctor flee as he burns the lab to the ground to prevent any more experiments. After taking the files for himself, of course.

A New Hope?

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Avery exits the burning lab to the sight of a veritable army of police officers pointing their guns at him. He uses his telekinesis to try and scare the police off, but the police chief captures him at gunpoint. Said police chief then decides to try to execute Avery on the spot. This doesn’t go well for him, especially after said chief tries to threaten Avery’s family too. Avery uses his telekinesis to turn the chief into a human pretzel, but before he can finish the job, a small mob shows up to try and kill him. Avery flees in a stolen police car, but crashes into a lake and apparently drowns. The replacement chief shows up at Avery’s family’s doorstep and tells them the grim news.

6 months later though, Avery shows up to save a bus full of civil rights activists from angry white supremacists with Molotov cocktails. This nets him a friendship with the local priest, who then introduces Avery to his friend: Brother Martin. Meanwhile, his wife gets a present from Avery that proves he’s actually alive. Unfortunately (or the opposite, depending on your point of view), their daughter reveals in the end that she has telekinesis too. What is she going to do with that power? Well, that’s what I presume we’ll find out in the sequel to Dark Blood. Whenever they get around to writing it.

Dark Blood: The Good

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Damn it, Avery. This is no time to have a traumatic flashback.

The story of Dark Blood is the best part about it. LaToya Morgan has written a very detailed story intersecting the racism of the 1950’s and the nascent Civil Rights Movement with WWII, PTSD from said WWII, and a black man having superpowers in this time period. The doctors’ unethical experiments on Avery are a callback to the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which was a more mundane version of that and yet was no less horrific. That comparison between the Nazis and the murderous white supremacists was pretty apt, and is an important comparison there. That revelation about Avery meeting Martin Luther King Jr. was also a nice touch.

Avery Aldridge himself is also one of the best things about Dark Blood. His alliterative name is a nice callback to classic superheroes, and the story shows that he does have the soul of a hero. Every time he uses his telekinesis so far, it’s either to harmlessly play around with or in self-defense against people who want to murder him or his family. No matter how you look at it: Avery is a hero in a really bad situation. I will be very interested in however LaToya Morgan chooses to continue Avery’s story later.

The writing isn’t the only great thing about Dark Blood though. Walt Barna and Moisés Hidalgo did a wonderful job with the artwork. Everything about the comic book’s art is lovingly detailed, from the various facial expressions to the accurate depiction of WWII equipment. As a WWII nut, I love the period-accurate P-51 Mustang, MP 40, and Luger pistol. It’s a small detail, but it’s a detail I appreciate.

Dark Blood: The Bad

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Oh, there’s nothing bad about these P-51 Mustangs. They’re fine machines.

My only complaint about Dark Blood is how depressing the story is. It makes me really wish that the sequel will feature Avery reuniting with his family. Seriously, let there be such a sequel.

Source: BOOM! Studios