After One Bullet, which was only barely a Deathwatch story, it’s reassuring to see that Steve Lyons’ Bad Blood, the second in Black Library’s latest Deathwatch series, is much more deserving of the name. Featuring the Blood Angel Antor Delassio it takes the form of the stalwart Space Marine’s vivid, troubled recollection of the first battle in which his chapter’s gene-flaw – the Red Thirst – revealed itself. Preparing for a new battle to come, painful memories surface of a vicious against-the-odds fight for survival when his ship was boarded by the traitorous Black Legion.
There’s a nice balance to the story, with occasional moments of ominous peace amidst the carnage of a one-sided battle, as Delassio’s battle-brothers fall around him while he gradually finds himself falling under the sway of the Red Thirst. It’s also a rare pleasure to see the Deathwatch pitted against something other than their usual xenos foes, with the Black Legion proving dangerous opponents. In spite of what must surely be the worst cover art in the history of Black Library, this is a solid story that manages to capture the essence of both the Deathwatch and the flawed, troubled Blood Angels.