What do you when a super-powered criminal is on the lam? Hire a bloodhound. And his name is Clev.
Clev is the long-locked star of the comic book series Bloodhound. Launched back in 2004 at DC Comics, it found a second life in the open arms of Dark Horse Comics earlier this year with a collection of those DC stories, out this week — and now word’s come down that Dark Horse has another job for Clev — a new five-issue miniseries, part of the publisher's recently revived superhero line.
Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine is scheduled to launch in October with the entire original creative team onboard: writer Dan Jolley, artist Leonard Kirk, inker Robin Riggs, letterer Rob Leigh and colorist Moose Baumann. Showing there’s more life to this hard knocks superhero creation that it’s short life at DC, Bloodhound follows Clev as he works as the FBI’s top guy to track down supervillains, under a parole agreement, after he was convicted of killing his former partner. You know the phrase “fight fire with fire"? In Bloodhound’s case, the best way to find a supervillain is to be able to think like one.
Newsarama spoke exclusively with Dan Jolley about this new Bloodhound series, and tried to get inside his head about the whereabouts of Clev and what he’s going to be up to when this new series hits.
Newsarama: Dan, last time we spoke, Bloodhound was jumping from the DC back issue bins to a new collection at Dark Horse and a couple of shorts in Dark Horse Presents — now we learn Bloodhound is primed for more, including a full-fledged miniseries. How’d these new developments come together?
Dan Jolley: It's all about how much faith Dark Horse has in the property. When editor Brendan Wright read the old material, he basically came to me and said, "This stuff is great! How did I miss this when it first came out?" Brendan's the one who showed it around to other people at Dark Horse, and the rest of the office seemed to agree with him — that this was a series that had fallen through the cracks, so to speak, and they all felt it would be a good fit among Dark Horse's newly launched superhero line. They liked it well enough, just from reading the material in the collection, to greenlight a three-parter in Dark Horse Presents.
So once that was set to happen, I asked Brendan if he'd be interested in doing something bigger, like maybe a new mini-series, and he said he might be, depending on what kind of story I wanted to tell. So I pitched this new five-issue arc, and Dark Horse went for it in a big way.
Nrama: What’s the story in this new miniseries, and what will it be called?
Jolley: Well, for those unfamiliar with the property, Bloodhound is about Travis Clevenger, a huge, brutal ex-Atlanta police detective with an innate knack for understanding and tracking down superhuman criminals. "Clev," as his friends call him, has a pretty screwed-up personal life, stemming from an affair he had with his partner's wife and the subsequent death of his partner at Clev's hands. The FBI pulled Clev out of prison on a closely-supervised work-release to help them track down a superhuman stalker/rapist, and fitted him with a bulky, humiliating tracking collar around his neck, as well as a "bullet-proof undershirt," as Clev calls it, to "protect their investment."
Clev has no superhuman powers himself, but as I like to describe it, his power is that he's mean and he fights dirty. Clev has no respect for anyone save a tiny handful of people, and all things considered, would rather be back in prison, since he's become convinced that the world is better off without him in it. But he cooperates with his handler, a tough, beautiful FBI agent named Saffron Bell, and helps the Bureau take out superhumans while the higher-ups try to figure out what to do with him on a daily basis.
One of the hallmarks of the series is the level of violence it uses. Clev is a giant of a man, but he's only human, and when he goes up against someone with a superhuman power, he usually takes about as much damage as he dishes out; almost every case he solves ends with him in the hospital, and he and Saffron both carry a lot of scars from the superhumans they encounter.
The new miniseries, debuting in October, is called Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine. It's about what happens when someone invents a device that, if you can afford it and pass the background checks, can grant anyone superhuman abilities. It's also--if I've done my job right--something of an allegory involving the American debate on guns and gun control, which is an issue I've developed pretty strong feelings about in the last couple of years. I won't say here which side of the debate I come down on. Once people read the new story, I'm hoping it'll be pretty clear.
Excluding the short story in Dark Horse Presents, this is the first new Bloodhound material I've written since 2005, and I've definitely learned a lot since then; I don't think I would have tried to pack as much into a script back then as I've done here. And I'm happy to say that, judging by the reactions from Brendan and the rest of the staff at Dark Horse, and from penciller Leonard Kirk, Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine is going to be the best Bloodhound story to date. It takes everything from the original material and amps it up — Clevenger's detective skills, the personal lives of the characters, and definitely the violence. I think I freaked Brendan out a little with the script for the fifth issue. He's of the opinion that the climax to this story is something readers will be talking about for quite a while.
Nrama: How would you say Bloodhound fits within DH’s rapidly expanding superhero line that’s forming?
Jolley: That's the amazing thing about the approach Dark Horse is taking with their superhero books: Bloodhound can fit in pretty much however the team wants it to. It does take place in the same universe as X and Ghost, with the same cities and points of reference, but it remains its own animal, and if I want to just tell Bloodhound stories, I don't have to worry all that much about conforming to company-wide storylines and massive events. (Mike Norton and Dennis Hopeless's excellent The Answer is another good example of that, as it has very little to do with other parts of the Dark Horse universe.) That's a welcome change from the way the series was managed at DC, when at any moment I might get a phone call and be told, "Hey, drop what you're doing and make issue number whatever a crossover with Character A." Not that that ever happened or anything.
I even got the opportunity to introduce another of my own original superheroes in this story — a character that I might do more with down the line.
Nrama: We've learned the entire original creative team from the 2004 series, from artist Leonard Kirk all the way down to coloroist Robin Riggs is reuniting for this.
Jolley: Yes they will, along with awesome original letterer Rob Leigh! They all loved the series when it first came out, and it was like getting the proverbial band back together when Brendan called them. The only member missing is original editor Ivan Cohen, without whom none of this would have happened in the first place. Leonard's stepping up and doing covers for the new mini-series, too, and of course they're going to be gorgeous, because Leonard and Robin and Moose are freaking brilliant. I've seen designs for the first three so far, and I couldn't be happier.
Nrama: You’ve already done one new story, “In Plain Sight," which appeared in Dark Horse Presents. Will that be collected somewhere too?
Jolley: Somewhere, yes, definitely, but I don't know if DH wants me to comment on where yet. That's one lesson I've learned well: never piss off the marketing people by confirming information they haven't released.
Nrama: Understood. Before I let you get back to Clev’s story… what’s it like getting a second chance here with Bloodhound?
Jolley: It's fantastic. It's gratifying, and vindicating, and kind of amazing to have the support of a company behind it; as I've commented before, as far as I could tell the only person at DC who gave a rat's ass about the book when it came out was Ivan Cohen. But now Brendan is totally behind it, as are Scott Allie and Mike Richardson, and they're letting me take Clev and Saffron in pretty much whatever direction I want to. As far as I'm concerned, Bloodhound is the best work I've ever done in comics, and creating new material for it now is like getting reacquainted with an old, good friend.