REVIEW: When the Blood Has Dried #3 by Gary Moloney (W) and Daniel Romero (A)

If the first two issues of When the Blood Has Dried were setting up the initial plot of the story, issue 3 is where things start to really escalate. Maebh, our hero and owner of a tavern that’s threatened to be swallowed up by the intimidating Darius and the mysterious Adventurer’s Guild, is backed into a corner when Darius – and by extension Boru, the Gaffer’s son – try to sell the land connected to the tavern to the Guild. Darius’s call for a test of skill puts Maebh in a position to defend herself and all that she’s been working for in the intervening years since her violent departure from the Guild, but it also gives her a chance to defend herself, to really show what she can do.

When the Blood Haw Dried #3When the Blood Has Dried has, in only three issues, shown itself to be a very relatable fantasy story, one about fresh starts and running from parts of one’s past that one may not find all that pleasant. I found myself rooting for Maebh more and more: she’s fighting for what she’s worked hard for, what she wants to keep, because it gives her purpose, fulfills her. Darius stands in the way of all of that. I was equally impressed to see Darius’s resolve in this matter too; it’s always refreshing to see a villain who is just as determined as the hero to complete their goals, nefarious as they might be. He’s dogged in his pursuit, and it’ll be interesting to see what exactly his plans for the town are.

From page one, When the Blood Has Dried issue 3 also has some of the most action-packed art in the series so far. Everything is expressive and kinetic; the test of skill near the end of the issue, an archery contest set by Maebh herself, is especially important because it’s so cinematic and expressive. Romero’s art here really shines in those moments.

From the onset, When the Blood Has Dried is pitched as a fantasy story that draws inspiration from spaghetti Westerns, and it’s now that we’re starting to see those elements coming out. It’s easy to draw comparisons between Maebh as the white hat sheriff protecting the town and Darius as the black hat outlaw who comes to take it by force. The archery contest feels like a duel at high noon, with each combatant quick drawing their arrows and shooting almost impossible shots. Issue 3 ends in a cliffhanger, so we’re bound to see more of those elements between Darius and Maebh. The colors in those pages in particular really bring out the Western vibe.

With the fate of Maebh’s tavern – and probably the town itself – in jeopardy, When the Blood Has Dried issue 3 shows that Darius will stop at nothing at nothing to get what he wants, but also that Maebh, intimidated as she might be due to his reappearance, won’t stop until she defends what’s hers. When the Blood Has Dried has shown itself to be a series that continues to impress.

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Alex Puncekar

Alex Puncekar

Alex Puncekar is a Cincinnati-based writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. His fiction has appeared in Aphelion Magazine, Jenny Magazine, and he has written interviews for Lightspeed Magazine and Nightmare Magazine. You can find him @AlexPuncekar, alexpuncekar.com, or at his newsletter, writer person.

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