Over the past several years, Hector Rodriguez has been faithfully and steadily working on his own Magnum opus, Hell’s Blood, from Guild Works Publications (GWP), a small, indie publishing company that produces comics and prose works. Well, Hector has finally completed the first four-issue story arc of Hell’s Blood and has compiled it into a trade paperback edition. The story is about a young lad named Hector (no relation) who lives in Holyoke, MA and inadvertently gets involved in occult activities after his grandmother, Angela, is assaulted by dark, mystical forces one evening. As it turns out, Angela is practiced in Santeria, and a demon spawn has chosen this moment to cross over to kill her, and steal an Opal that she carries which will allow him to do all sorts of heinous things on this side of the divide.
As he story opens, Angela is on her way home when she is attacked by a daemonic insect. Summoning her own arcane abilities, she fights back with tragic results, and eventually her grandson, Hector, is drawn into this epic battle between the forces of the mystic darkness and the flesh-and-blood world. As it turns out, Angela doesn’t have the Opal on her, so the creatures now stalk Hector, who is on the run. Luckily for him, though, a couple of mystic warriors (Zanda and Ota) come to his aid and manage to fight off several demons, only to lose tract of Hector in the process.
Fortunately, Hector is discovered by a pair of cops out on patrol, but during the fight he lost the ability to speak (via a spell cast on him), and is taken into custody. Worse still, he is taken from the cops by a detective in league with the demons who were attempting to kill him. The detective takes Hector away but not before he slashed the tires of the cops’ car, leaving them stranded. As can be expected, the detective doesn’t take Hector back to the station house but to a place where the detective can turn him over to the demon hunting him. As the story continues, Hector manages to escape and morphs into his own other-worldly, spirit-self as he defends himself against all comers.
The story, which unfortunately starts off a bit slowly, eventually gains its “sea legs” and becomes quite readable in the later chapters. While this is Rodriguez’s story, he chose to collaborate with scripters for the early chapters, unfortunately, Rodriguez’s initial scripters were apparently — shall we say “not nearly as competent” as they should have been to carry this tale as his later collaborator (Kudus to Chris Buchner for managing to salvage the story in the final two chapters by actually scripting it). Still, throughout the entirety of the book, Rodriguez’s amazing line work truly carries the book. In fact, Buchner informed us that even though Rodriguez left the scripting up to Buchner, that Rodriguez did make a major plot point in the fourth chapter that propelled the story to its amazing climax. Needless to say, Rodriguez — who is first and foremost and artist — now feels comfortable enough with the storytelling aspect of the tale, to take over the full scripting chores himself with issue #5.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.