Tag Archives: Christian Duce

Ides of Blood #5

“Chains” (No Spoilers)

Writer: Stuart C. Paul
Artist: Christian Duce
Letters: Johnny Lowe
Editor: Scott Peterson
Cover: Michael Geiger

This is an incredibly dense comic. I’m not talking page-length, I’m talking story-wise. It takes me a while to get through the 22 pages of story but Paul has packed so much into those pages, I feel more than full when I’m done reading. It’s a great feeling!

Things slowed down significantly in this issue but rightfully so. Our characters are on their way to cracking the mystery at the heart of this story and Paul continues to add great twists and turns; even tragic ones. I won’t say who, but let’s just say at least one character doesn’t make out of this issue. It’s so cool when a creator is not afraid to end his creations. It raises the stakes of the story and shows that no one is safe. Plus, Paul does a great job of creating great characters in such a short amount of screen time. It actually sucked when I saw this character die. That’s great story-telling!

If I had any quip about this issue, and it’s very minor, it’s that I feel Christian Duce’s art didn’t seem the same with him coloring it. Don’t misunderstand me, his art is still amazing. It was just a very subtle change with him doing the interior work instead of having Carlos Badilla coloring for him like early on. But his art is still dead on for this story and he illustrates some great shots.

Even though things slowed down a bit, Paul doesn’t leave it like that the entire issue. As we get to the “master-plan” scene at the end of the book, we are treated to great confrontation between all the characters and yet another interesting twist as we find out how the Romans plan to end the vampires once and for all. It was a very interesting concept.

But Paul doesn’t let up even on the last page where we end on a very interesting cliffhanger as well. This one will leave you scratching your head until next issue. Without a doubt, this is the most under-rated title on the stands right now. I so hope this gets traded so more people can experience its awesomeness.

8 out of 10 (On it’s way to greatness!)

Ides of Blood #3

“Fangs, Romans, Countrymen” (No Spoilers)

Writer: Stuart C. Paul
Pencils: Christian Duce
Colors: Christian Duce
Letters: Johnny Lowe
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editor: Shannon Eric Denton & Scott Peterson
Cover: Michael Geiger

This comic is kicking major @$$!!! It’s so refreshing to be reading a creator-owned work that this hitting it on all cylinders!

One thing I instantly appreciated about this issue is that I was able to finally grasp which characters were present and what their names were. Don’t misunderstand; this was not by Stuart Paul’s error in earlier issues at all. It’s just that this is such a dense comic I was getting lost with all the characters presented. Plus the fact that some of the Roman names of people and places are hard to pronounce here. But Paul does a great job of allowing us to recognize each of the characters and their roles now. For example, Anthony, the former friend of our main character Valen’s shows how truly brutal he can be. The opening scene between Anthony and Valen’s was highly cringe-inducing.

Remember how I’ve described this as Gladiator with vampires? Well, Stuart Paul is taking that premise and had so much fun with it in this issue. Imagine the scene with Russell Crowe in Gladiator where he first fights in a match and the colorful characters he’s matched up against. Now imagine those opponents are monstrous that are super strong and super fast. That’s the setting for the awesome battle Valens has during the course of this issue. Artist Christian Duce does an incredible job of illustrating some of these creatures and making an extremely action-packed and intense confrontation.

Stuart Paul has also done an excellent job of creating great dialogue and this issue is no exception. I did notice that Paul had more fun with the dialogue this issue. It seems as if he’s getting more comfortable in telling this story and how each character delivers their lines. The great dialogue mixed with amazing action made this one of the most fun reads I’ve picked up.

Even though the news of Wildstorm shutting down is sad, it’s great to see such a superb comic being one of the last to be printed under the imprint. Both Stuart Paul and Christian Duce are going to be sought after creators from here on out. And for those of you who are not checking out Ides of Blood now, you will be when these two guys make names for themselves. Mark my words!

9 out of 10 (Excellent!)

Ides of Blood #2

“Beware the Ides of March” (No Spoilers)

Writer: Stuart C. Paul
Pencils: Christian Duce
Colors: Carlos Badilla
Letters: Johnny Lowe
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editor: Shannon Eric Denton
Cover: Michael Geiger

Stuart C. Paul and Christian Duce deliver another beautiful issue in this intriguing mini-series. Paul’s writing is flawless and Duce’s art continues to be amazing as we get arguably one of the most unique takes on one of the most infamous assassinations in history.

Paul’s skills as a writer shine here as the pacing is excellent. He is able to pack so much story into these issues so far that I really feel like I’m getting my money’s worth reading this comic. In a 32-page comic that only has 22-pages of actual story (standard because of the ads) you feel like you get twice as much story. I’d liken it to what Adam Beechen is doing over in Wildcats.

Don’t think this means Christian Duce is doing nothing but drawing small panels. The layout sizes vary enough to keep it visually interesting; including an awesome full-page shot of Valens and Caesar. There are also some great action pieces especially towards the end where some of the scenes are very superhero-like. Duce is also able to capture the desperation in those final pages as we end with a great cliffhanger.

It’s obvious Paul has done his research as he inserts various ideas surrounding the assassination of Caesar such as the “Ides of March” and omens like the two-headed calf being born. It’s amazing how much mythos has been built around this historical event. It’ll leave you wanting to head to Wikipedia to read up on all the details he’s inserted in the story.

I’m afraid this comic is going to fall under the radar for most people. I know money is tight for a lot of people but if you’ve got that one title you’ve wanted to drop, do it and add Ides of Blood to your pull. It’s only 6 issues and with what we’ve gotten so far, I anticipate that it will be a solid read all the way through. Give it a try if you’ve been on the fence about it. It’s worth the read!

9 out of 10 (Excellent!)

Ides of Blood #1

“Rome Of Shadow, Rome Of Light” (No Spoilers)

Writer: Stuart C. Paul
Pencils: Christian Duce
Colors: Carlos Badilla
Letters: Johnny Lowe
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editor: Shannon Eric Denton
Cover: Michael Geiger

Here we’ve got a fresh offering from two new creators. As far as I understand, this is both Stuart C. Paul and Christian Duce’s first foyer into comics. I have to say, they’re beginning their comics career with a bang with this series.

I’m going to start with Christian Duce’s art. It is gorgeous! Combine that with Carlos Badilla’s moody coloring and you’ve got the perfect setting for this dark tale. Duce’s art is incredibly detailed, even when he’s drawing the city of ancient Rome. Duce also has a realistic style so it fits the story well, almost like a movie. Each shot is well chosen and believably conveys each scene as we progress through the story. He even does a good job of giving each character some defining facial features which makes it easier to distinguish them in an issue that is heavy on characters.

I can tell Paul has done his research for this story. While Duce is busy creating an accurate representation of ancient Rome visually, Paul is doing it within the story. Whether it’s in the dialogue or the names, everything that’s discussed feels like it belongs in this world. Even the supernatural elements don’t seem forced. It seems like everyone in the story is reacting appropriately to these extraordinary events.

If I have any complaints about the issue, they are very minor. The narration mixed with the heavy dialogue did run a little long through the middle of the book. But the great beginning and the end more than make up for it. Don’t misunderstand me, I do like the narration. I think it helped fill in a lot of information that probably couldn’t have been given otherwise. Like I said, it’s a minor complaint.

Overall, a great first issue! Paul did a good job of getting us into this world, setting up the characters, and dropping enough clues to begin the mystery in the story. I’m so glad this mini-series is starting off strong. Ever since seeing the preview for it I have eagerly anticipated this series. So far, so good. I’m ready to read more!

8 out of 10 (On its way to greatness!)