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Dead Body Road #2 wastes no time in getting down to business. I’d expect no less from a six-issue limited series seeing as their time to advance the story is limited. That has a lot to do with why I’d recommend this comic to just about anyone. I find that limited series tend to be among the best; there’s not much in the way of filler in a story that has to be told in just six short issues. Then again, while instant action and story development is a given, that format also presents particular challenges. Does Dead Body Road overcome all of them?
There’s no question that this six-part action thriller from Image Comics is as exciting as it is tense. There’s always danger, another shootout with a “BOOM” and “BLAM,” accompaniment just around the corner. The first issue opened up a lot of doors, introduced some truly shady characters, and of course, Orson Gage. While he is indeed the “hero” of this story, I get the impression that no one is quite safe. Dead Body Road is a gritty comic book with a fast pace.
If there’s anything that this comic lacks, it’s character. The action, shootouts, and anti-heroic justice is in generous abundance, but the character development—just who it is these people are, what’s driving them other than revenge and money, feels completely absent. Our hero is Orson Gage. A third of the way through the entire series, and we don’t know much else about this guy besides the fact that his wife is dead and he has a sadistic hunger for bloody revenge. In that respect, he seems to have a lot in common with the bad guys.
As is the case with action, it’s easier to stand behind a vicious and violent protagonist than in any other genre. However, I’m beginning to worry about our guy, Orson. Give us a flashback to happier times, a bit of expository dialogue that consists more than just “My wife died. They Killed her. I need to kill them,” anything at all that might shed some light on who this reckless man is. As we approach the third issue, I want to know why I should continue to root for him. Luckily, with the introduction of Rachel, that appears to be the direction they’re headed in.
Despite these criticisms, I still think Justin Jordan is succeeding at what he set out to accomplish. The second issue, while lacking in some areas, delivers in every other. Gage checks two thugs off his list, and in teaming up with Rachel, has acquired the means to lure the rest right to him. It ended with a great cliffhanger that I’m excited to see develop in coming issues. Additionally, the dialogue is sharp; each character speaks uniquely, like an individual. That’s both a gift and a curse in the sense that many of these characters are some truly despicable people.
Matteo Scalera, as always, is on point. Everything from scenes that are tensely still to those loud with gunshots are effectively portrayed. There’s a foot chase in this issue, and Scalera manages to convey quickness and urgency in a handful of panels that had me on edge. His style is consistent throughout and seems to add an appropriately gritty look. His use of close-ups place us right there in the thick of it with Gage and Rachel.
I will most certainly be sticking with this series on through to the end. This comic’s “shortcomings” could just as easily be a product of my own impatience. Character growth—or at the very least, development—could just be right around the corner. I hope to learn a lot about both sides, about Gage and the criminals he’s hunting. I fear that without these expansions in story, Dead Body Road will whither into a wild goose chase.