It’s time for another Single Comic Review!
This week, it’s The Dead #5, which was written by James Maddox, and illustrated by Jen Hickman. Maddox also did the lettering. There’s no editor, and it shows. It also hurts. There’s no publisher info, and that’s just as well.
As always, there’s a three Prince-song system to the reviews: Adore means buy it, Beautiful Strange means take it or leave it, and When Doves Cry means not to buy it.
Ready? Let’s go!
This is issue 5. This is not a jumping on point. Possibly the first issue was, but even with a flashback, there isn’t much going on here that’s comprehensible.
From what I can gather, everyone in the comic is dead, and there’s some sort of realm of the dead going on here. We start off at a funeral, go into a flashback as to who died, and then come out of the flashback to have talk about the people at the funeral going to war. Well, one of them was talking about it, at least. The rest just fell into step because they were threatened. Then some talking about nothing interesting, some fighting that didn’t do a lot, and then the issue was over.
There was a lot of padding here that could have been cut, and a lot of story that wasn’t told. Basically, I was lost, and there wasn’t anything even close to enlightenment coming. Every issue doesn’t need to be someone’s first, but it should at least interest the reader enough to go back to the beginning. I wasn’t interested. The concept was interesting (the dead occupying “rooms” and can die again), but the execution is clumsy at best.
The art is the highlight of the book. It has an interesting look to it. However, like many new artists, Jen likes to drop out the background and just focus on the characters. That can be well and good at times, but the characters have to be saying something of import when it’s done. And it can’t be overdone. Here, it’s a gimmick that is overused.
Also, I sometimes had trouble following the action. Some things didn’t make sense. Near the front of the book, a tall character has a child (about 8 or so) standing at their feet in panel 1, that character is then talking to a blue character in panel 2, and then that child from panel 1 has been struck in panel 3 and is falling, but falling from a height that was impossible to reach without being picked up. It didn’t make sense.
The coloring also isn’t consistent, which also goes right to Jen, since she took care of all the art chores. The background sometimes gets dropped out and colored differently, even when the room is empty. Doesn’t make much sense. Bad visual storytelling, and the colors don’t really help to give an overall feel to the book, because nothing seems overly established.
The letters… I’m a stickler for at least halfway decent letters. At the very least, be consistent about crossbar I’s. Sometimes they’re used, sometimes they aren’t, and that can be seen sometimes in the same panel. At least the balloon tails pointed toward mouths. That’s something, at least.
Like I said before, the lack of an editor really hurt this book. It’s in the writing, in the art, in the coloring, in the lettering. It’s all over the place.
There’s a lot of padding here. This is a twenty-four page story. However, there’s two pages that act as chapter headings that don’t have anything to do with the story, and three splash pages. Two useless pages, and at least one of those splash pages are unnecessary. To be honest, there’s really only about fifteen pages of story here. If there were a competent editor on this book, it would have been a lot better.
Basically, a decent idea is marred by execution.
Final Verdict: When Doves Cry