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Comic Book / Blood Syndicate

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Clockwise from the top left: Tech-9, Flashback, DMZ, Masquerade, Wise Son, Holocaust

The Blood Syndicate is a Milestone Comics "team" of superhumans created by Dwayne McDuffie, Ivan Velez Jr. and Denys Cowan. It ran for 35 issues from April 1993 to February 1996.

They are an amalgamation of two Dakota City street gangs - the Paris Island Bloods and the Force Syndicate – who survived an event known as the Big Bang from which they developed superhuman powers.

Believing that their survival was meant as proof to pursue a higher purpose, the Syndicate set their sights on eliminating the crime that plagues their city, drawing the ire of both mobsters and the government alike. As they delve deeper into the mystery behind the Big Bang, the Syndicate is forced to overcome not only their enemies, but also their own conflicting ideals and motivations.

In 2022, a reboot of the series, helmed by Geoffrey Thorne and ChrissCross was published as part of DC's Milestone Media initiative. See Blood Syndicate (2022) for tropes pertaining to that series.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: The Jade Emperor is this to both Kwai and the Demon Fox, and not only the worst abusive parent in the Milestone universe but possibly one of the worst in all fiction. The Jade Emperor has condemned both his daughters to seventy-seven cycles—77 full lifespans—of eternal torture, death and misery for literally no other reason than to have a cheap game for him and his immortal buddies to gamble on. When Kwai manages to reach her father and beg him to break the cycle, the Jade Emperor opts to murder her instead.
  • Action Dad: Hannibal White, aka Wise Son is a father of two and one of the strongest Bang Babies out there.
  • Animal Talk: Boogieman is capable of communicating with rats even in human form.
  • Anti-Hero Team: The whole team is this.
  • Badass Crew: Managed to overpower and knock out Icon, who keep in mind gave Superman a hard time. Later they take on the actual Man of Steel and although they don't win they still managed to hold their ground, an impressive feat by itself.
  • The Big Guy: Gender Flip with Brickhouse. She also wishes she were a Girly Girl, but since she's an Expy of the Thing, it's impossible.
  • *Bleep*-dammit!: The Milestone comics ordinarily use scribbles to censor the strongest obscenities, but the last issue of the My Name is Holocaust miniseries slips in an uncensored instance of Holocaust saying "fuck". The other spinoff miniseries, Wise Son: The White Wolf, notably didn't censor any of the profanity at all.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Carlos Quinones/Fade and Sara Quinones/Flashback are part of the Blood Syndicate and their powers work well together.
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: In issue four, Tech-9 publicly announces that he's going to take a piss. Flashback replies by sarcastically thanking him for telling the rest of the team that.
  • Caper Rationalization: The Syndicate rob crackhouses as a source of income, but it's justified by the idea that they're removing the drugs and the unsavory criminal element from the streets. When a crackhouse boss attempts to cut the Syndicate in on their profits in exchange for staying open, Fade's response is to knock the drug lord through a window.
  • Dead Person Impersonation:
    • Masquerade impersonates the deceased Tech-9 and takes leadership of the Syndicate from Wise Son, at the Demon Fox's manipulation. However, once her deception is revealed by the Demon Fox, the gang disbands completely.
    • The Demon Fox pretends to be John Wing's own wife a while after she was summoned by him. In reality, not only did John Wing sacrifice his own pregnant wife to call upon the Demon Fox in the first place, the Demon Fox snapped his neck afterward because she's just that much of an evil bitch.
  • Deep Cover Agent: DMZ, whom Icon recognizes as one of the Green Lantern expies of the Milestone universe.
  • Dysfunction Junction: As expected from an Anti-Hero Team made up from former gang members, the group has some personal issues, especially since the death of their charismatic first leader Tech-9. They're even called one by their latest member Oro.
    • Wise Son has to balance between leading the team, his religious beliefs and being a father for his children, besides dealing with his own temperament.
    • Fade struggles with remaining solid due to the instability of his powers as well as being a closeted gay man who hasn't opened up even to his sister.
    • Flashback has to live with the knowledge she has seen several of her teammates die, which takes a toll on her mind and leads her to become addicted to drugs, plus her Conflicting Loyalty towards her ex-boyfriend Holocaust.
    • Brickhouse is very insecure about her rocky appearance, plus her Identity Amnesia and the seizures she suffers due to being experimented on by System.
    • Third Rail is also insecure about being worthy of Brickhouse, plus the guilt he destroyed his father's restaurant with his powers.
    • Boogieman for a long time lives with the guilt that he's a white person who simply never bothered to confirm his ethnicity.
    • Masquerade is a trans man who uses his powers to turn into their actual gender, but struggle more and more to keep appearances. And then Demon Fox manipulates them into impersonating Tech-9, leading to getting expelled from the Syndicate once they're exposed.
    • Kwai not only has to deal with stopping her evil sister Demon Fox, she also constantly worries about the friends she has made at the Syndicate and what could happen to them, especially Fade.
  • Excrement Statement: During Holocaust's dream sequence in the third issue of his spinoff miniseries My Name is Holocaust, a portion where the Blood Syndicate show up to taunt him ends with Dogg urinating on him out of spite.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Holocaust, being too far too crude and quick tempered to be Affably Evil.
  • Gayngster: Fade
  • Henshin Hero: Kwai/Nina Lam
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Neither Kwai's coldness nor the Demon Fox's insanely sadistic behavior could be explained by anything less than the monstrous abuse of their father, the Jade Emperor, who set up their Sibling Rivalry as a cheap game between him and his immortal buddies.
    • The My Name is Holocaust miniseries shows that Holocaust had a father who frequently beat him and verbally abused him, in addition to constantly being picked on. It's no wonder he's now an aggressive and murderous criminal.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Wise Son, being far less charismatic and affable than former leader Tech-9, frequently butts heads with the other team members and is abrasive to everyone else on his good days. Nevertheless, he still desires to improve things for Paris Island and its people.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Roberta "Rob" Chaplik. The first four issues use her as the POV character for the readers to introduce the Syndicate and the Big Bang as she goes to Paris Island to write a detailed story about them. She returns in the final issue as Wise Son and Dogg give her the remaining evidence so she can finish her story.
  • Language Barrier: Aquamaria only spoke Spanish in her earliest appearances, meaning she could only communicate with her Spanish-speaking teammates, although later on she learns a few phrases in English.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The few times the Syndicate battled other heroes it was framed as this, whether it was erroneously believing Icon had come to take their turf back on behalf of the city, or being in complete disbelief that Superman was flying around the ruins of Paris Island during the events of Worlds Collide (1994).
  • Libation for the Dead: Issue four has Tech-9 empty a liquor bottle on the ground in memory of the dying prisoners the team was unable to save.
  • Like Parent, Like Child: The Demon Fox, the single most sadistic character in the comic's run, clearly takes all of her traits from her father the Jade Emperor. Her father not only couldn't give less of a shit about the Demon Fox, he set her up to begin with to commit horrible atrocities against her sister Kwai.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: The Big Bang. While the Bang was a key factor in the origin of other Milestone characters (most notably Static), Blood Syndicate was the most directly connected to the event, serving as the gang's origin, with numerous issues dedicated to the team trying to figure out how and why it happened.
  • Neighborhood-Friendly Gangsters: For the most part. While the locals fear them for the most part (justified as they were able to stand up to Icon), they don't purposefully cause trouble for the average citizen without a good reason and will go out of their way to save innocents in danger. Lampshaded in an issue of Static where Static (in his civilian identity) and the Syndicate show up to the same theatre, but the worst that happens is Fade tells the audience to keep quiet during the film and not to smoke weed since children are present.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability:
    • Wise Son's power. Demonstrated in the first issue when Brickhouse knocks him through the second floor of the factory hangout they use and he immediately gets up, ready to fight.
    • Holocaust has some degree of this, at one point taking multiple carnival rides to the head, and barely feeling a thing, and being able to trade and withstand blows with the equally-invulnerable Wise Son and even Superboy during Milestone's initial merger into the DCU. However, Milestone Forever shows that he doesn't have total invulnerability to his own flames, and can burn himself to nothing but bones if he turns the heat up too far.
  • One Bad Mother: One of the antagonists is an old woman who goes by the codename Mom.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: John Tower in the spinoff miniseries My Name is Holocaust is mentioned to have outlived his son Tommy.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • When fighting Tech-9 for position of team leader in the second issue, Holocaust calls him a "spic". The spinoff miniseries My Name is Holocaust would later have Holocaust demonstrate misogynist tendencies and refer to Bad Betty as a "dyke".
    • Wise Son spends his spinoff miniseries Wise Son: The White Wolf facing a group of Neo-Nazis called the Children of the Ivory Fist.
  • Pyromaniac: Holocaust has power over fire and has a sadistic enjoyment of making everything burn.
  • The Quiet One: DMZ almost never talks nor takes off his helmet.
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation: In the final issue, Oro struggles to say "invulnerable" before deciding to just say his enemies can't be hurt.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Holocaust isn't completely immune to his own flames, and can burn himself down to the bone if he uses too much of his power. Rift used this against him in Worlds Collide, and Holocaust inadvertently kills himself when trying to fry Wise Son alive in Milestone Forever.
  • Save Scumming: Flashback can rewind time by three seconds, an ability which has saved her teammates lives more than once. Deconstructed in that watching her friends die on several occasions begins to takes a toll on her mentally and causes her to rely even more on drugs to cope.
  • Soap Punishment: Issue 22 has a System operative threaten to wash Masquerade's mouth with soap in response to Masquerade swearing at him.
  • Spinoff: There are two spinoff miniseries, My Name is Holocaust (which has Holocaust as the main character) and Wise Son: The White Wolf (a spinoff focusing on Wise Son that began publication after the base series ended).
  • Talking Animal: Dogg with two G's, the team's resident is a canine who can speak.
  • Toilet Humour: In issue five, Fade and Masquerade joke about what Brickhouse's bowel movements must be like.
    Masquerade: It probably comes out like rocks.
    Fade: Or clay if she ain't feeling too well.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Wise Son is a devout muslim, and he's the only member of the Syndicate who's strong in his religious beliefs.
  • Token Wizard: Kwai is the only member of the team whose powers come from magic rather than the Big Bang or alien technology.
  • Villain Protagonist: Holocaust got his own spinoff miniseries in My Name is Holocaust, where he's still as abhorrent and cruel as ever, but some light is shed on his origins.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Masquerade, who can shift all or parts of their body depending on the situation.
  • Water Is Womanly: Aquamaria's entire body was turned into water and she's usually one of the nicer and girly female members of the Syndicate.
  • White Gangbangers: Boogieman. Though he was raised on Paris Island, which is very much the definition of the hood. Wise Son tears into Boogieman for hiding his race from the gang, even though no one ever asked.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Miguel Medina/Oro joins the Syndicate because, after being expelled from the Shadow Cabinet by Dharma and framed for murder by SYSTEM, he has nowhere else to go.
  • Your Mom: In issue three, Third Rail taunts one of the underlings he's fighting by saying "Your mother's so stank, she flosses with bacon!"