Dia De Los Muertos #2 (Image/Shadowline)


3.5 / 5 – Good if bought for the right reasons

 The striking Riley Rossmo cover to this comic book caught my eye and demanded that I buy this book.  I did not notice the “Dos” on the cover so did not know it was the second issue until after I bought it.  The book has slightly oversized dimensions (about 7.5 x 10.5) which helps attract my eye in the stacks of the other new comics but I understand those collectors that dislike odd sized books.

This is an anthology series with different writers but all featuring the art of Riley Rossmo (from Cowboy, Ninja, Viking) and the Day of the Dead story motif.   The Day of the Dead is a holiday that takes place on November 1 and 2, in connection with the holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.  Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using skull and skeleton designs, marigolds and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. [Thanks Wikipedia].  Prior to this, I was only aware it was a holiday involving honoring those that had passed and excellent art often featuring skulls and skeletons.

This volume finds three tales with colors by Megan Wilson on the first two and Jean-Paul Csuka on the final one.  Rossmo is able to alter his style somewhat in each story to provide a different look.  The first story by Joshua Williamson finds our protagonist searching for a girl that disappeared on a previous Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico.  The second part written by Ed Brisson involves a member of law enforcement facing up to his previous actions while mourning for his lost love, Marissa.   For me, the art in this story reminded me of the daily strip, Mutts by Patrick McDonnell.  The final story by Jeff Mariotte involves 2 young boys working their way up the criminal ladder, who visit the grave of their departed grandmother to discuss their fates.  This is a mature readers title.

It is no easy feat to tell a compelling story in a few pages of a comic book.  You don’t get much story telling real estate to establish your characters and tell what you need to say.  Consequently, I often find many rely on the twist ending or the slice of life style.  Both can work but are difficult to make them original.  Here the bias is more towards the twist ending.  Given the theme, I would imagine that most of these stories likely will continue to be surprise endings.  I read many anthologies and think this book may be too limited by having such a uniform tone in the stories.  The best anthologies mix up the story styles to derive maximum impact.  By having similar stories in a row, they invite too much direct comparison.  Also, no artwork in the book matches the beautiful cover to this book.  I would think there is an audience for this book but at $4.99 an issue I will pass on these.

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4 / 5 – Recommended reading for fans of Rossmo

 I fall into the “when bought for the right reasons” demographic that Andrew talks about above.  I love Riley Rossmo’s art and love seeing it in this slightly over-sized package.  Normally I’m not a huge fan of anthologies, but have liked the stories in both issues of this series, mostly because of the Rossmo art throughout.  Having the similar theme in the anthology was a strength for me since I’m a fan of the topic.

I’m also a big fan of Rossmo changing up his style a bit & experimenting on the different stories.   In each issue I had at least one “Wow!!” moment for a page that really knocked my socks off.

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