The Right Mix of Insanity and Reality: Double Dead and Bad Blood by Chuck Wendig

Let me start here:  I recommend Double Dead and Bad Blood for fans of vampires, zombies, and Preacher.

Because like Garth Ennis’ epic comic run on Preacher, the Coburn series has a kick-ass concept that gets this avalanche rolling:

Coburn’s been dead now for close to a century, but seeing as how he’s a vampire and all, it doesn’t much bother him. Or at least it didn’t, not until he awoke from a forced five-year slumber to discover that most of human civilization was now dead—but not dead like him, oh no.

See, Coburn likes blood. The rest of the walking dead, they like flesh. He’s smart. Them, not so much. But they outnumber him by about a million to one. And the clotted blood of the walking dead cannot sustain him. Now he’s starving. And on the run. And more pissed-off than a beestung rattlesnake. 

Also like Preacher, that cool concept is just the beginning of the roadtrip ofo the story.  Things get a lot crazier from there.  And that makes it hard to review these books without spilling the beans about the many, many holy crap moments throughout Double Dead (or the shorter sequel, Bad Blood).

So let me talk about Preacher again for a minute to explain.  See, the reason I’m optimistic about the upcoming TV adaptation is because I’ve seen This is the End.  That movie pushes the edge of improbably comic WTF moments (repeatedly), but also has a rather sweet buddy-movie story at its core.  This is the End pushes the edge, but does not cross it.  But my gripe with Preacher (and really, much of Ennis’ work) is that inevitably crosses the line into farcical shock gags that just kick me right out of the story.

Arseface or Jesse’s extended family are beautifully executed arcs that walk that line… but then there’s Herr Starr descending into just being a running gag, or the whole farce of the Messiah (and Ennis’ apparent fascination with fat people falling on skinny people).  That kind of stupid bull@#$* just annoys me.

And here’s where we get back to Chuck.  See, Double Dead has its own impossibly crazy bits – but they’re grounded in the way that Ennis’ best are.  They’re the natural insanity that happens in our lives… but these characters are never played as just a joke. 

And that’s what makes Double Dead so freaking awesome.

I haven’t talked much about Bad Blood here, true.  Not because of any particular lack on its part – it’s a good book.  It has the same kind of moments and emotional intensity.  But it’s a little less than half the length of Double Dead, and rather than a (literal) cross-country romp, almost seems like it should have been part five through eight of Double Dead.

And that’s why I recommend you pick up both Double Dead and Bad Blood and read them back to back. 

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