With Blood Lines Rob Walton completes a series left unfinished since the 1980s, so providing closure for those who followed it then. However, this opening volume isn’t just a repackaging of old material, but a complete revision with new script and art for a story never previously available as a graphic novel. It’s completed for the first time across Vol. 2 and Vol. 3.

At its simplest Blood Lines could be described as an action thriller set on an alternate Earth not far removed from our own with biblical analogies, but that grossly undervalues the layers represented via an ambitious approach. A Clockwork Orange could be seen as an initial inspiration as the opening pages introduce a gang arriving at a bar, their language peppered with unfamiliar phrases as Walton throws readers in mid-story. The primary character in that sequence, and indeed the series, the one to which all others defer, is Deborah Judges, a gang enforcer with no concern about killing.

Walton then introduces the wider world, displaying it as squalid and corrupt, where atrocities are laid in front of the police chief Pilate, yet he seems unconcerned, and little demonic creatures are commonplace. A form of storytelling apparent throughout Blood Lines is Walton presenting some events visually without explaining them, leaving readers to immerse themselves and join the dots. Deborah is central to almost everything, a constant inner rage brutally manifested, yet orbited by others both part of her gang and without. Scenes featuring characters whose parts are vague form regular intrusions, although each in some way elucidates their world.

Blood Lines isn’t going to be an apocalyptic horror story for everyone. If you expect more to be clarified over 180 pages rather than waiting, this isn’t for you. Furthermore Walton assumes considerable knowledge on the part of readers, and there’s a frequent uncomfortable feeling of a scene having greater significance than the obvious, without knowing exactly why. Checking Biblical references online doesn’t greatly help in dispelling that feeling, although it reveals direct quotes. What is clear is that different parties operating at a power level well above Deborah and her gang are squabbling about which of them best represents the intentions of God.

Their presence raises a lot of questions, not least if such powerful beings exist in the name of God, why is the world a hellhole? It’s question that could be asked about our world, which is a thought that will recur as Blood Lines continues.

There’s a monumental ambition to Blood Lines, but over this opening volume Walton gives little away, and it’s understandable that readers might have been frustrated by the original serialised comics. So far mystery and intrigue are prioritised over connections and answers, but they are forthcoming as the revelations begin in Vol. 2.

Transparency requires noting that Walton has contributed reviews to this site.