The Fistful of Blood trade paperback is what I imagine would be the result if a teenage boy’s weirdest daydreams were printed into a comic book. A faux-horror parody of Fistful of Dollars, this story is set in an all-but abandoned western town where several old movies and shows were filmed before becoming a tourist trap. An ongoing feud between a gang of vampires and a gang of zombies is only kept at bay by a mutual understanding that any victims that visit the town are split 50/50: blood to the bloodsuckers, flesh to the flesh-eaters. The arrival of a busty lingerie-clad beauty challenges the status quo and nothing is ever the same again. Yes, this is as ridiculous as it sounds, but let’s face it… it definitely piques your interest. Oh, and twist ending is a doosey.
I regret to inform you that this four-issue collection is not as interesting as it sounds. There are some fun ideas in this epic triple crossover, but the concept fell flat when writer Kevin Eastman introduced the “woman with no name”. The story is not scary despite its horror basis, and any attempts at humor aren’t very funny. Since this is a parody, one would think there would be obvious jokes, but this collection just doesn’t deliver. Most of the dialogue is provided by the old bartender who carries the plot along since the lady gunslinger never says a word the entire time. Also, this iteration of zombies are of the cognitive variety, speaking and passing as “normal” cowboys, making the rivalry with the vampires understandable. The fight scenes are really fun and graphic, with no complaints here. They are as goofy and gory as you would expect, with massive gunshot wounds and explosions and limbs flying everywhere. What I do have a problem with is the art continuity and over-the-top sexuality of the main character. When I read this, I kept thinking “This does not look like an IDW book… this looks like Heavy Metal!” Well, upon reading into the extensive bonus material included in the trade, we discover that this was originally printed in Heavy Metal. The original pencils were by Simon Bisley, but Eastman redrew over his work page by page to give the book his own flair and had Tomi Varga add color and detailing for a more full feeling. Eastman uses every excuse he can to make the woman with no name lose her clothes and does it frequently, emphasizing her giant breasts, full lips, big eyes, and plump behind. She plays the clashing monsters against each other and fights very well, but in the end she’s just an overplayed gimmick. Also, I don’t know why the artist felt the need to have so many close-ups on her eyes when they really don’t add to the story at all. Maybe he just thought “Eyes are beautiful and I’m good at drawing them, so I better include thirty eye close-ups in four issues”. I will admit they are beautiful though, except when he shows reflections of things like people and signs in them. It feels pointless in my opinion. I do really enjoy the monster art though, and the hazy, sepia hues really sell the western aspect of Fistful of Blood.
Overall, I’d say the book is good for what it’s worth and you get what you pay for. The art is sketchy and raw, and the writing isn’t profound, but if you’re interested in an overly sexual vampires versus zombies shoot-em-up western with a twist, then this is right up your alley.
A Respectable Three out of Five Stars.
Written by Simon Bisley and Kevin Eastman
Art and cover by Kevin Eastman and Simon Bisley