1996: The Crow: Flesh & Blood

The Crow: Flesh & Blood (1996) #1-3 by James Vance and Alexander Maleev

Huh. James Vance? Well, I guess it makes sense on one level — he’d worked for Kitchen Sink before. But he’d done serious stuff like Kings in Disguise, and putting him on a spin-off from The Crow seems like an odd fit. But let’s see how he does.

The original Crow series, and the J. O’Barr-plotted first sequel both had a sort of feverish, miasmatic quality to them: They were nightmarish and somewhat non-traditionally told. This, on the other hand, is very, very straightforward.

I do wonder, though, why they went through with a monthly serialisation of all these three issue mini series (this is the second of five of these series) instead of just publishing them as trade paperbacks. The original Crow collection sold several hundred thousand copies, so publishing more in the same format as that seems like a no-brainer to me. (But then again, I know nothing about comics publishing… just doing my thirty-years-later backseat driving ruminations…)

There’s some stuff like this, which don’t make that much sense — it seems like he’s going to strangle her with that rope, right? But he didn’t.

But then they blew up the house she was in a month later?! But why.

So this time around, the Crow has selected a woman to be the avenging spirit. I mean zombie. Whatever. That’s something new, at least.

But there’s so much here where the only possible response is “wat”. She shows up at her lover’s apt. and his immediate response is to run out (ok) and gets a gun from his pickup (wat) and then shoots her (wat).

So I’m thinking, the only way this could make sense is if there’s a twist ending where it turns out that her lover is her killer or something, and he’s just trying to kill her again, but nope.


Instead she wants to have sex with him, and now that she’s dead “we can do anything you’ve ever wanted” because she can’t be hurt anymore.


I think my initial suspicions were correct — Vance just isn’t good at this genre stuff.

Wow, those are awful, bobble-headed statues. Only $400!

O’Barr kept things pretty vague, which is a good idea. Because when you start spelling out the rules like this, it just makes things more boring.

But I’ve been so busy being exasperated by the story that I haven’t bitched about the artwork, right? Maleev’s rendering is quite impressive, but the basics are often pretty weak. I’m guessing he works a lot from photo reference, but he often gets the sizes and positions of people wrong. I guess this makes sense if the smoking guy is in front of the other guy (since he looks too big), but that doesn’t really make sense, since we’re seeing the old guy from below, but the smoking guy straight on.

It’s just a random collection of snapshots oddly superimposed into the same panel.

Or to take another example — she’s like two meters tall there? I guess it makes sense from a dramatic point of view to have her enter the room freakishly big, but in the next panel, she’s normal sized and five meters behind the other people.

Etc etc.

So of course Maleev won the 1996 Must Manning Most Promising Newcomer award.

*gasp* Moral ambiguity!!! Vance comes through with the deepness.

This book was a pain to read. The previous mini, Dead Time, was really confusingly told, but at least it was entertaining. This is very straightforward. And lethally dull.

Heh. I noted with the previous mini that they had surprisingly little in the way of merch. Well, doik! Even lighters, for when you want to fire up your cigarette in a dark alley while brooding.

Too bad the movie they were betting all this money on was pretty much universally reviled:

It didn’t do well at the box office, and Kitchen Sink was apparently left with a barn full of merchandise, which led to their next bankruptcy.

But we’ve got a few more blog posts to go before that, so I’ll cover that more in depth later.

Let’s see what people thought of this comic:

Alrighty. This was short, rambling, hard to follow, and seemingly pointless.


This was decent enough but ultimately felt like it was trying too hard to replicate the feel of the original and just really missed the mark with the writing in particular. I did like the art a lot though and that’s probably most of what saved this for me, that and the fact that I’m always here for a female Crow. Although I hate that it always seems to be related to the woman’s dead child. Between this and the woman from the TV show [which I really did love] I’ve got to roll my eyes a bit that male writers don’t seem to be able to see a role for women seeking revenge beyond dead children.

But opinions differ:

Author James Vance does an impressive job at developing the characters and uses the crow remarkably well to show the inner turmoil that Shaw goes through as she comes to terms with her situation and chooses her course of action.

This is the two hundredth post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

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