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Dead Man’s Run #s 0 & 1 [Review]

Full Circle; Man Down
Written by: Greg Pak
Illustrated by: Tony Parker
Colored by: Peter Steigerwald; David Curiel
Lettered by: Josh Reed
Covers 0C, 1A: Tony Parker, Peter Steigerwald
Published by: Aspen Comics

I came into Dead Man’s Run having no honest idea what it was about. The title itself suggested maybe someone dies and comes back, or has some fatal countdown looming and they have some mission to carry out despite knowing death is imminent.

Turns out there’s this prison, with guards and all that…and what they’re guarding is Hell. Like…THAT Hell. Their prisoners belong there, and they basically just make sure they stay put. There’s a warden who seems to be something more, and some plot seems to be in motion.

The zero issue sees the death of a guard who with his last breath as a live man requests another. In the premiere issue, we meet Sam–a doomed cartographer who finds himself stuck in Hell at the side of the deceased guard, who seems poised to show Sam a whole different world than he ever dreamed existed. Meanwhile, we get a hint at the nature of the warden, and some of Sam’s motivation (the car wreck that he died in and woke up in Hell also left his sister in Hell–something he’s not going to take lying down).

This #0 and #1 really feel like the pilot episode of a tv series, more than just the premiere of a new comic series. The story–what’s set up so far and where it seems it might go, and the execution–seem very cinematic in a tv sort of way. I’m not entirely thrilled with that, because I don’t know that I want to READ a tv series.

That said…the story’s got a couple interesting hooks that leave me curious for the next issue. The art is very solid and in general makes the story flow. Stylistically it doesn’t seem at all like a super-hero comic (which is good, because this most certainly is not of that genre) nor does it seem hyper-realistic. It just has a comfortable feel that carries things alone.

The writing is solid…I know next to nothing about these characters, but there’s enough there for the potential to shine. It’ll be interesting to find out more about Sam’s past and the relationship with his sister–and if there’s anything special about either of them that’ll play into things. The prison guard, too, has a glimmer of something more. The glimpses we get of the warden suggest a lot more to her as well, that COULD wind up being cliche, or could provide something that might make for an interesting (eventual) comparison to the Hell we find in Gaiman‘s The Sandman: Season of Mists.

I made the reference above about this being like a tv series. Using that comparison….this puts me in mind of the first season of Prison Break if the imprisoned brother arranged for the other to be jailed, but dealing with a prison of hellfire and brimstone rather than steel and concrete.

Aside from the story and art, there’s also the fact that this is backed by Gale Anne Hurd’s studio…so I’m inclined to give this a bit of time to take shape if someone who helped to get The Walking Dead from comic to tv endorses it.

I received these two issues free as review copies, so the only up front cost to me was the time taken to read these. I don’t see a price on the #0 issue, but #1 is listed as $3.50…which earns points from me for being $.49 cheaper than most Marvel comics. As something cheaper than a standard Marvel, I’m more apt to buy #2 than I am one of those $3.99 Marvels.

The story so far seems to be–as said–like a pilot episode, so I’m not entirely sold on the singles, but reading these has me definitely interested in either picking up the next issue when I notice it on the shelf, or at least checking back before too long for a graphic novel collection.

You could certainly do much worse than this book…and it’s not off to a bad start at all.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

What do you mean it’s almost February?!?

After a long hiatus, I’m back for a fluff post, sharing some of the goodies I just snagged from a bargain bin. 63 comics for less than the price of 4 Marvels.

I’d read Green Arrow: The Wonder Year almost a decade ago for a comics class I took. That was in a collected-edition, though. And come to think of it, this MIGHT be the second time I’ve purchased this mini from a quarter-bin; I have most of the first 30ish issues of the ongoing Green Arrow series this led into.

greenarrowwonderyear

And I recognized this Cap mini-series from around that time, as well…I may have bought the first issue as a new issue back in the day…maybe the whole mini, but not being sure, and certainly to avoid the issue of rummaging through dozens of boxes, snagged all three issues:

capdeadmenrunning

Realized there was a full run of the 8-issue Green Lantern Corps Quarterly, and given the sheer size of the issues and being a run…right up my alley:

glcquarterly

While NOT QUITE a full run, Blue Beetle 1-20 were all present, and given this price for the singles, far FAR cheaper than trying to get the trades:

bluebeetle1to20

Then I noticed some Justice Society stuff. And sure enough, speaking of full runs…the 1991 JSA series:

jsa1991

And the 1992 series:

jsa1992

And of course the characters’ return in the 1999 “mini-event” or whatever it was:

jsa1999

…plus a handful of other random issues I neglected to put back. As it was, I put back probably another 40+ issues that I now regret: a lot of the “Secret Files and Origins” type specials from throughout the mid/late 90s and early 2000s for Batman, Flash, and JLA. But considering I walked away with such a significant run of Blue Beetle, and the three JSA series and whatnot…I’m a pretty happy camper.

‘course, I’m only vaguely aware that Batman #5 was part of my stack of new comics and Ghostbusters #5.

Wondering more and more what it might be like to just drop new comics altogether, and instead raid quarter bins and such. Far better value on the older stuff…especially from this comic shop!

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