Dan's Reviews > The Battle of Blood and Ink: A Fable of the Flying City

The Battle of Blood and Ink by Jared Axelrod
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's review
Jun 28, 12

bookshelves: comics, reviewed
Read in June, 2012

I have absolutely no idea why this piece of garbage got published. No idea at all. This graphic novel reminded me a lot of the Phantom Menace in that its plot was highly convoluted, characters were unlikeable and the plot had about the depth of a puddle of rainwater and didn't even make any sense. The only difference between the Episode I and this literary offal is that The Battle of Blood and Ink is mostly definitely even worse- as difficult as that is to stomach. Even fucking Jar-Jar Binks had more likeability and depth of character than any protagonist or antagonist within the entirety of Blood and Ink. If this doesn't dissuade you from reading this- nothing will and you are truly a lost soul.

The pacing of this work feels incredibly rushed. Furthermore character and plot development are given little if any room to breathe outside of what is otherwise boring and vacuous political dialogue that does little if anything to even flesh these characters out. In addition to the lack of character development, little if any background knowledge is given surrounding this world, the Steampunk-esque town of Amperstan, or even the evidently very important yet completely unexplained rivalry between the Clouddogs and Coppers. From what little I can infer the Clouddogs are some type of romanticized Steampunk/Wild-Western downtrodden dregs of society- and the Coppers (for whatever reason coppers is never capitalized in this work even though it evidently denotes a specific group- they're the antagonists for heck's sake!- and is hence a proper noun. The editor should be shot.), which are basically the corrupt and bloated officials. I guess. I can't really know because nothing is explained at all in this book. In fact, the background knowledge is so sparse, which is an understatement in of itself, I found myself completely unable to care about the characters or the even this flimsy facsimile of a plot.

Just as the characters are unlikable, plastic simulcrums of extremely watered down archetypes- the plot itself is bascially non-existent until it's facticiously fabricated about halfway into the book where it is shoved into our faces. As we readers all know Amperstam is a floating Steampunk city however, at this point in the book it is revealed that it remains afloat through the enslavement of many Clouddogs (I can only speculate- as this isn't explained either) in some type of Matrix-esque enslavement technique but, in the realm of Amperstan, and instead of evil machines, this bondage is achieved through some faux-occult magic (again, this isn't explained either. How did the antagonist achieve this power? How come no one else exercises this power?). Instead of being given any type of explanation for this- the only extra bit of information given concerning this very odd power system is told at the end of this work by the antagonist- that basically her forebearers had utilized this system- and she had no choice but to continue it in order to keep the city afloat. Again- any slight application of reason or basic critical thinking reveals this plot to be COMPLETELY insipid. Why does the town have to stay buoyant anyways? Why didn't she seek out any other solutions? Was she damned through this black magic? Did this magical power corrupt her? Is the land beneath it toxic or otherwise hazardous to human life? While that might seem to be a good explanation- at the very end of this work- it is revealed that at least one (and most likely more) farmer(s) live(s) on the ground- proving otherwise. Nope- Amperstan just needs to remain buoyant JUST 'CAUSE as a plot device. Maybe if some horrific danger or other peril would inflict the town if it would go down- maybe I would care and maybe there would be some tension. But alas, there are none of either.

Following some boring action, mind-numbing dialogue, and some amazingly paltry character development we readers finally get to the end- where the compounding of inanity is so absurd I felt like I had a migraine after reading this garbage. As it happens, Ashe requests the aid of the pirate she saved at the beginning of the work to help her bring an end to the monstrous practice of human enslavement keeping the city afloat. In doing so she is given a floating device- CONVENIENT HUH?- by the pirate JUST 'CAUSE that could ostensibly keep the city afloat otherwise. (As a quick aside this floating device is UNBELIEVEBLY similar to the Cavorite in Alan Moore's masterpiece League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1- if I didn't know any better I'd call this PLAGARISM). Anyways- the human jail is raided (even though we never see the prisoners set free- wouldn't that have been the point?) and Ashe somehow gets some type of Batman-esque flightpack and attempts to put some detonators at the bottom of the floating city. Why? I don't know either. But at this point in the story I stopped asking questions because nothing made any sense and I just kept reading so I could finish this and come on Goodreads to write a scathing review in hopes that no one else wastes their time with this refuse. Anyways- as the bombs are about to be detonated- the character admits to this being a suicide bombing- nope, couldn't make this shit up,(Quote: "You blow them now, you'll get hit in the blast." "I can live with that." You won't live at all." "I can live with that too."). The explosives explode and all the bad people are killed and the Ashe survives because of the psychic energy released by the deaths of the imprisoned minds and thus is able to save herself. This residual energy empowers everyone else in the town too Ashe explains this result, even though this makes no sense either.

Needless to say, The Battle of Blood and Ink is a horrid clusterfuck of awfulness. Character development is essentially non-existent. I don't care at all for the main character. Hell- I can't even really feel any emotion for any of the ancillary characters either since their roles are so dumb and basically unimportant to the plot as a whole. Even when they are being tortured or beaten I jut can't care. Hell, even her sidekick just drinks wine and drops some stupid lines (Why was this character even in the story?!) And speaking of the plot which doesn't exist until about halfway in, because there is no real conflict until then, there is no clear journey to handle the conflict, all the pieces to solve it just seem to fall together in a weirdly arbitrary fashion as the author made it up as he went, instead of the characters figuring it as we would expect in any other narrative. The ending makes no sense, the resolution is equally retarded, and as a reader I'm left with a real sense of vicious emptiness that has gnawed at my brain because nothing in the damn book made any sense. This is simply another example of how far the graphic novel medium has gone down the drain in the past decade or so. Which is a real shame, we've come a long ways since the glory days of Alan Moore and his Watchmen.

Finally, in addition to the aforementioned delinquencies of the authors, the dereliction of the editor, and the myopia of the perverted publishers themselves- there are at least two instances of PLAGARISM. The first being the use of human beings in some sort of mental stasis in order to power the city- a CLEAR ripoff of the Matrix. While the previous example is somewhat arguable, I’ll reluctantly admit, the use of the floating object is so similar to the Cavorite in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (hell it looks like the SAME DAMN THING AND HAS THE SAME FUNCTION). While I will grant that the cavorite is a recurring fictional element in science fiction- the object illustrated looks so unnervingly similar to Alan Moore's one- I would be willing to place bets that the author read Moore's work and filched it. This unequivocally proves that Jared Axelrod is a perfect exemplar of the all too common unoriginal toolbag writer currently working in this medium- lacking any real wit or fresh ideas in a medium that is desperately in need of these values.

2 Big thumbs down!
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