Dead Body Road #1 Review: New Take, Classic Premise
Dead Body Road
reminds me of my childhood—bizarre? I knew you’d think so. It goes without saying: my childhood was not filled with bank robberies, torture, murder, car chases, and revenge. What I mean is that I grew up glued to action films, to the works of Stallone, Seagal and Schwarzenegger. Dead Body Road #1
feels like the best of them, like a brand of action that’s hard to come by these days. It’s a true rarity to see a story of this type handled so thoughtfully. So what is the creative team doing right? [spoilers to follow]
The setup is common in the action genre: a man’s wife is killed in a bank robbery gone wrong, only this isn’t any ordinary man; he’s exceptionally capable in dangerous ways, and he just so happens to have nothing left to lose. When I put it that way, phrase the plot in those words, it sounds like a tired and recycled story. It isn’t, not by a long shot. A lot of things need to go right for a comic to be great. Chief among those is adherence to the episodic format in ways that make the issues gripping—every issue—and to conclude each issue with an ending that makes readers spend four weeks anticipating the release of the follow up. With issue #1 at least, Dead Body Road
has succeeded in this department.
Orson Gage is our hero—or anti-hero—and he’s out for blood. That much is obvious. So where does Dead Body Road
go so right? For one, there is much much more going on than Gage’s headhunt. The thieves who gave Gage his bloody purpose are fascinating, varied, and happen to have a lot of secrets. Did the bank robbery really
“go wrong,” or did it play out just as planned? Who, exactly, is Fletcher Cobb? What is his role in all of this? Will Gage protect Rachel? And I’ve got a hunch that we will be hearing more from Jack Yablonski, but in what capacity I couldn’t begin to guess.
This story pretends to be your typical action packed revenge thriller, but I have a feeling that there’s much left to be learned. Gage will get revenge—plenty of it, I’m assuming—but I expect he’ll also make some startling discoveries along the way about the true nature of this crime and its facilitators. Dead Body Road
isn’t just a revenge tale; it’s a gritty mystery, and Sherlock is closer to the case than any good investigator should be. Luckily, he’s out for more than answers.
Clearly, I can’t stress enough how pleased I am with Justin Jordan’s writing. The creator of Luther Strode
knows his way around violent human conflict, and it’s come in handy in Dead Body Road
. His characters are sinister—even the good guys—and as I’ve said already, there’s more to this than Gage making his enemies pay. The dialogue is very will written. Each character has an inner life, and that’s not so easy to depict in just one issue.
Matteo Scalera is an absolute master of illustrating comics. I’m an enormous fan of his work on Black Science
, and all that he did before it. His style is very distinct, with a grittiness that complements the tone and pacing of the story. I always heard that action movies are some of the hardest to direct. While Dead Body Road
isn’t a movie, and Scalera not a director, he is still tasked with depicting shootouts and car chases visually, and he does an exceptional job at it. I think I can best describe Scalera’s work as being perfectly imperfect. It wouldn’t be right for such a story to have neat and tidy panels.
While it’s a shame that there will only be five more issues in Dead Body Road
, it’s actually quite perfect. This isn’t one of those sprawling stories—you know from the start that it needs to end, either with the success or failure of Gage’s conquest. A miniseries is the perfect format for such a story, where many of the characters won’t be around for a very long time. After all, this comic is called Dead Body Road
for a reason! It’s a short a road, but one I know I’ll love traveling.