You’re reading The Complete Infinite Crisis, a Comprehensive and Encyclopedic look through the universe-changing superhero event published by DC from 2005 to 2006. Shelfdust are proud to provide a complete overview of the story, and everything that happens in it. We’ve got as far as… page three.
The Teen Titans have shown up and they’re righting some demons sent by Brother Blood. That all seems fine… until you realise that none of it makes sense. Who the devil is Brother Blood? We’ve summoned up the arcane Justin Partridge to help explain this for us!!
On the third page of Infinite Crisis the Teen Titans are fighting demons sent by Brother Blood. Who is he and why is he so interested in the Titans?
Justin Partridge: I have waited so long for someone to ask me this. Thank you for giving me purpose again.
If the Teen Titans had a traditional Rogues Gallery, Brother Blood (specifically Sebastian Blood VIII) would be at the top of the list. 700 years ago (by Hypertime), in a land called Zandia (the 80s!), a priest killed another priest for a shawl he believed contained the last traces of Christ’s blood. Luckily for him, the shawl WAS blessed, but by someone a little closer down South as the dying priest cursed Sebastian Blood to have to “reup” his curse every 100 years, doomed to be killed by his own son in order to continue the shawl’s power throughout the males of his line. It was in that moment that Brother Blood was born, wherein he killed and learned about blood magic all throughout his ruinous line.
The Teen Titans first ran afoul of the Blood bloodline in 1982 in The New Teen Titans #21, from the iconic pair of Wolfman and Perez. Brother Blood AKA Sebastian Blood VIII wished to extend his reach beyond his home country, setting up the not at all creepily named Church of Blood on the Titan’s home turf with the help of his wife, the aptly named Mother Mayhem. Of course, the church radiated hardcore cult vibes and soon the Titans were swept up into Sebastian’s Jim Jones’ing and blood magic. And thus, a classic Good Guy/Bad Guy dynamic is formed with Brother Blood becoming one of the few “mainstay” villains of the young heroes just like the Flash Family have their own Rogues.
VIII? Is there… more than one Brother Blood?
Partridge: BOY IS THERE EVER. Not only is there a built in “lineage” that the character comes complete with, there have been multiple incarnations of Brother Blood across a few mediums by now.
The most famous, or perhaps infamous, is Judd Winick and ChrisCross’ Sebastian Blood IX, who debuted in Winick’s 2004 Outsiders run and then continued over to his run of the Titans in issue #30 as a member of the revived Secret Society of Super-Villains. Blood the Ninth is far more vicious than his namesake, extending the original’s vampiric and blood magic abilities and even coming with his own Mother Mayhem (who is just an unfortunate cultist by which Blood the Ninth projects his Electra Complex onto and murders if they don’t tell him what he wants to hear). This Blood even had a fun explicit tie into another “A-list” Titans baddie, Trigon, who was the “patron saint” of Blood IX’s Cult of Blood, providing him powers in exchange for blood sacrifices and allegiance to evil.
The New 52 even took its own crack at Brother Blood, rebooting the character and re debuting him in the pages of Phantom Stranger and Animal Man, where he was revealed to once again be in the thrall of Trigon, but Jeff Lemire added a fun wrinkle to his origins, detailing how The Red Kingdom once tried to tap Blood for service as the Totem of Red (aka The Animal Man) in one of that title’s more impressive arcs. DC Rebirth even has a “Mother Blood” who popped up in the Rebirth Titans title to try and enslave Beast Boy.
Even TV has had Brother(s) Blood. The original incarnation of Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans had a Brother Blood (given an oily, but enthralling voice by John DiMaggio) where he was the leader of the villainous H.I.V.E. Teen Titans GO! has a Brother Blood, who becomes their hapless straight man in one of the show’s more hilarious entries “Waffles”. Hell, even Smallville, Arrow, and the DC Animated Movies ALL had Brothers Blood! It’s almost like they are GIVING away the title.
We’ve been told that THIS Brother Blood has some kind of issues with his mother – what’s that all about?
Partridge:Well, heh, some of this might be ol’ Geoffy trying to have some fun with the character. You see, all the way back in The New Teen Titans, with the…shall we say, materially weird relationship between Blood and Mother Mayhem there has been this odd “mommy complex” that has followed the character throughout his sordid history at Detective Comics Comics.
Though the Wolfman and Perez issue tried to clear the decks of it by having the end of the Titans’ and Blood’s fight come to a close with the cathartic reveal that Mother Mayhem is with child…a FEMALE child! Thus breaking the cycle of violence and blood letting that has dominated Blood’s life and curse.
But ever since Winick’s incarnation, whose issues with women and maternal figures is very clear text of his characterization, people have tried to poke fun at these elements, maybe to try to diminish their power or rob them of agency perhaps? The most explicit example I can think of is in Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man run where his Blood is presented very much as a nebbish, but rageful take on Blood, hemmed in by a mother who always said he would amount to nothing. This causes him to kidnap Buddy Baker’s family in order to get him to pass the powers of the Red into him, thus giving him the status and power he (and his mother) so richly, desperately craved.
Brother Blood is…kind of a weird dude, tbh.
Thanks so much, Justin! That sure does explain Brother Blood beyond a shadow of a doubt! We can head back into the issue now, and… wait a second, does this comic say that Lex Luthor is a fugitive? Whaaaat?! We’ll need to talk to someone about this!!
Justin Partridge is a writer and critic who has written for sites including Newsarama, Rogues Portal and DIS/MEMBER. For more, you can find him on twitter here!