Review: Warm Blood Vol 1
Collecting the first five chapters of the webcomic, Warm Blood is a brilliant high school mystery story and a lucid dream experiment all in one. Aiding writer Josh Tierney (Spera) on this is 30+ illustrators as each chapter is split up into different segments, heightening the strange dream logic as every few pages flows into a different style while impressively maintaining a strong sense of cohesion.
The story follows Penny as she's just just starting her first year at Greenwood High School, and she immediately meets Logan Filigree who's surprising helpful but also literally has blood on his hands.
The oddity of revelations never alter the slice-of-life storytelling, the story following its set of YA train tracks of teen drama and using the absurdities and peripheral dialogue to create a great atmosphere and tone.
Also one of their classmates is a prawn named Ennio.
I love Ennio.
The range of styles on display here is truly impressive, and the pace at which they are rolled into each chapter is flawless in how they all seem to meld and shape the tone of the book as you would expect a dreamscape to change. You know things have changed in illogical ways, and yet you don't question and go with the flow. The self-aware dialogue enhances this as characters break the 4th wall in ways that don't seem too unusual.
As the story progresses we're introduced to a strong and interesting range of characters, from Penny's anime obsessed old grade school friends:
Logan's twin sister who may be evil and uses a piece of paper and Event Horizon logic to teleport:
The sweet and awkward Eve who wants to be bffs with Penny:
And plenty more. Also, again because I love him, Ennio.
The plot progression and character development works well with all of the logic breakdowns of reality, giving you a really strong flow while maintaining intriguing surprises as things become consistent in their inconsistencies. I found myself getting more and more engaged as nothing was quite predictable and yet it's still following certain traditional coming of age story tropes and patterns. One of the elements that I think I truly enjoyed was that the story never really gives you an idea as to if this is a dream, or just the way reality is, or an issue of perceptions or something else. You're continually trying to interpret things, wondering how much you need to accept as just bizarre visuals/dialogue versus something that may play out differently down the line.
One of the other things I love about a project like this one is that there's a smorgasbord of artists that it's brought to my attention. I've been busy tracking through a ton of the names and finding their social media and other comic projects, so this book is literally a gift that keeps on giving.
If I have a complaint is that some of the sharpness of the visuals is lost in the transition to this smaller print volume. On one hand I think the smaller 5x7 paperback is a smart choice as this is aimed towards a teen+ demographic and it kept the price down ($10.99! For 128 pages of dense reading and beautiful artwork!). On the other hand I do think this was meant to be read online as the art is just a bit bigger and crisper, the colors really popping and coming to life just a bit more than they do on paper.
If you are into reading webcomics then you can read the entirety of this volume online plus another three books worth. Definitely give it a shot and then if you prefer print you can support them by picking up this volume and spreading the good word.
Also quick note to Josh Tierney, I would follow an entire Ennio based series of YA novels if you made them. Just putting that out there.