Published on April 1st, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
The Dying & The Dead #2 Review
There’s something about issue 2 of The Dying and The Dead that makes me think of the Blues Brothers mixed with Bubba Ho-Tep, the Bruce Campbell comedy/horror.
The whole issue revolves around Jim putting his team together after making the deal with The City. And the first stop is a retirement home full of drug hoarding and abusive staff where Captain Doyle Beller is hiding from his own terminal cancer by helping fellow residents. After a particularly cruel run in with the staff Doyle returns to his room to find Jim waiting with an offer for a chance at life.
Jim has made a deal to save his dying wife and he believes that if Doyle helps him then there’s a slight possibility the old man may also get a second chance. With nothing left to lose Doyle agrees to join Jim. In this moment there is a hint at their past, a small snippet of who they were and what they’ve done. Somehow this feels important and because it is then referenced when every new member of the team is found, it becomes clear that their historic dealings are going to have relevance to the new mission.
After leaving the retirement home, with a spot of harsh justice, the couple head off to recruit the rest of the team but first Doyle has a question about the ghost in the back of the car. Further dealings are made and the team is eventually assembled: Jim, Doyle, Everette (the money and travel), Martin the political prisoner and the Ghost from The City.
A number of characters are introduced in this issue but the most intriguing are Martin and the Ghost. Martin is released from prison after a little political bribing but out of the old crew he’s the only one who doesn’t seem pleased to be back in the pack. He is shown through a simple page of time shifting panels that he’s worked for decades to escape from prison and just one more day would have seen him a free man. With his melancholy and reserved attitude, it’s obvious that he does not feel like a free man, despite being out of prison.
The other interesting character is the Ghost. Apart from being the only female character in the narrative, she is the only supernatural character featured in this issue, a contrast to the vast ‘other’ world of the first issue. She serves a simple purpose: to remind the reader that this isn’t a straight forward old army reunion yarn. There is always the lingering shadow of the dead somewhere nearby. What happens to the Ghost at the end of the issue is harsh and brutal but also hammers home the point that she is already dead. The final page is creepy and unsettling but there is also an eerie beauty to the imagery that Hickman asks Bodenheim to draw.
The narrative throughout this issue is about character introduction which is something Hickman has a flair for. His understanding of the ‘full picture’ means that there is so much to take in with each and every character but nothing is elaborated on so what you are left with is nothing but mysteries. This is the Hickman style and if you’re not used to it you may find yourself unprepared for the narrative structure. However, if you’ve read anything by Hickman before, you know what you’re getting into and this is one of the best examples of his work. Hopefully he can keep to a regular schedule, unlike Secret, because this has the potential to be epic. Add to that Ryan Bodenheim’s detailed line work mixed with Michael Garland’s muted block colours and everything about this comic is a treat for readers.
To return to my opening statement, this comic has a feel of a B-Movie but with unbounded intentions.
Title: The Dying & The Dead
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Ryan Bodenheim
Colourist: Michael Garland