James Turner reviews Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers #1…
In the wake of a newly discovered alien threat, president Nixon calls on the one man he knows can stop the cosmic blood-suckers: Elvis Presley.
Bubba Ho-Tep and The Cosmic Blood-Suckers (yes, that’s really its name) is a prequel to the cult classic film Bubba Ho-Tep, and of course the lesser known novella by Joe R. Lansdale.
If the title and synopsis didn’t make it abundantly clear, Ho-Tep does not take itself too seriously. In fact, it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Like the film before it, Blood Suckers dives right into the weird and wonderful from page one, treating the audience to the charm of Elvis, whose lines I can’t help but read in Bruce Campbell’s stylised Elvis drawl, and an intriguing plot within the first few panels.
Unfortunately, this is really all the first issue does. It introduces us to our characters, three of which are genuinely memorable – the colonel especially exudes weaselly unpleasantness – gives us a plot, and sends us on our way to the store to buy the next issue without really providing us with much to sink our teeth into in the meantime.
Granted, writing introductions is hard, especially when you’re limited to the relatively small space of a $3.99 comic book, but I’d have like to have had something to talk about other than some exposition and a cool character or two.
To the first issue’s credit, it did make me want to read on. However, if the proceeding two or three issues maintained this level of interest, I’d probably have to cave before finishing the whole lot. Hopefully that won’t be the case.
From a technical standpoint, Blood-Suckers is likewise competent, but unspectacular. The writing feels natural, and Elvis is believably Elvis, but there’s a sense of humour present in the art and in the movie that isn’t present in the dialogue. Going in, I’d expected to be laughing at Elvis’ various quips, catchphrases, and general wit. However, though the charm was certainly there, the wit was not. Perhaps I’m melding Campbell’s portrayal of Ash from The Evil Dead into his portrayal of Elvis, but I’m sure I remember him having a bit more comedic spark than the Elvis on the page.
Similarly, the artwork does a good job of capturing the essence of the characters, though does little to flesh them out as much as I’d have liked. It’s also quite rugged round the edges, and can occasionally feel flat and grey. I can’t tell whether this was a creative decision or not, but either way it doesn’t do much for me.
I feel I’m coming across a little harsher than I mean to be. At its core, Bubba Ho-Tep and The Cosmic Blood-Suckers is a perfectly passable first entry into a new series. It sets up intrigue, characters, and even begins to build a fun world – the colonel’s ship, the Nocturne, adds a particularly nice touch. However, it does little else within the confines of its limited page count. Will I read the next one? Hell yes. Did I have a great time with this first issue? Eh.
James Turner is a writer and musician based in Sheffield. You can follow him on Twitter @JTAuthor