Writer: Jason Aaron / Artist: David Marquez / Marvel Comics

In case you were wondering what the clearest path to a good review by me, you can never go wrong with a Shinku Hadouken. This week Aaron and Marquez put together what might be the best Marvel Comic I’ve read all year. “A Fistful of Blood” is the third part in Avengers’ adventure to quell a vampire war launched by the Legion of the Unliving against Dracula.

The issue starts with an introspective Robbie Reyes, the newest Ghost Rider, stuck in a personal hell while the Spirit of Vengeance rampages against the Avengers. Back where the action is (funny that the action isn’t actually in hell) the remaining Avengers are split up engaging with the Legion. Blade practically says to Shadow Colonel, “Yea I shot yo dog, now what?”. Meanwhile, horror ensues in the Russian prison holding an asylum seeking Dracula. Unexpectedly, the ancient lord of vampires is the victim and not the perpetrator. The facility is about to suffer an unconventional attack from the Legion that I pray to Mother Russia becomes a Winter Guard vs Legion of Unliving brawl.

The creative team on this book expertly utilize the advantage of having a good sized cache of characters to utilize. It could have been an all out action scene for 20 pages and I wouldn’t have complained. Instead we get a blend of scenes that do a fair share of emotional appeal. An interesting feat for a book that seems mid-crescendo. Robbie’s pages in hell, describing his relationship with the Spirit of Vengeance rings true with the feeling of helplessness when you lose control you thought you had.

There were a couple gems in the main fight between Thor, Captains Marvel and America, and Blade against the berserker Ghost Rider and some of the Legion. The first is the classic Avengers move where a hero down and about to get smashed or blasted only to have Cap block in epic fashion at the last minute. Danvers is afflicted with the Penance Stare and a brief but poignant insight into her character is had. Blade has codified his role on the team as comic relief as he continues to struggle against the Colonel and Sarge. “The dog ate my sword”. Yet he is able give some tough advice to a teammate that could move one of the Avengers in an interesting direction.

As always, Dave Marquez and the colorist, Erick Arciniega, craft clean and beautifully vibrant pages. Once again the mix of red hellfire and cold blue prison walls makes for amazing juxtaposition. I can’t stress enough how bad you should be reading this and how I hope the rest of the Marvel Universe takes this book’s lead and tie into it in the future.

10 “A Visit from St. Nicholas” references out of 10

Reading Avengers? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.

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