Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Dead Hand #1 Review

Cold War, Dead Hand

Written by: Kyle Higgins
Art by: Stephen Mooney
Colors by: Jordie Bellaire
Publisher: Image Comics
Review by: Andrew McAvoy

I feel as if we are being presented with an embarrassing amount of riches from Image Comics of late. This book looked like an intriguing prospect from the off, and I must state from the outset that I am attracted to a book with a Cold War element, so I was primed to enjoy this. Often though it is the books we look forward to the most that can let us down. Let's find out what it was like.

Happily, this book was magnificent, and I make no apologies for the good reviews that I've given Image lately because they are certainly giving a wide variety of very different but very good books. Gasolina, Gideon Falls, No. 1 With a Bullet, and Analog all spring to mind immediately although there have been others too. This book met my expectations and I think actually exceeded them.

Firstly, the story is intriguing, action-packed, and cleverly throws you for a curve on several occasions most notably the ending. There are funny parts (the scene where the special forces crew bust into what transpires to be a Russian vacuum factory is very funny, as are parts of the dialogue involving the two former Soviet scientists who have been left behind to man the new factory).

The story is actually quite dense though. Higgins takes us from the Cold War, and its machinations involving our lead character Carter Carlson, to a flashback "white picket fence" view of Carlon's childhood (although little touches such as his mother's drinking which is provided show us behind the veil of  a perfect suburban life), to his latter-day residence in a very curious small town where he serves as its Sheriff. The closing twist is a classic.

Finally, just to highlight Mooney's art and Bellaire's colors. Amazing. Too many highlights to mention but mine include the awesome design for Carter's mask during his Cold War hero period, the childhood flashback scenes, and the awesome picture in the last half of the book with the three teenage girls leaning against the wall, particularly the Ramones t-shirt. They just exude an air of lazy bored teenagers and it is great.

Bits and Pieces:

I've had a very good week with comic books, but I have to say this has been my favorite. When people turn to me and say what is an example of an almost perfect comic book, it will be this one. I bought it in hard copy even though I have a digital copy. One point that I found curious - who's the woman on the front cover with the gun and the crucifix? My money's on Carter's sister but who knows?


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