Dead Boy Detectives #1 (DC/Vertigo)


Rating: 4/5 – A new Vertigo series that’s clever in story and art.

It’s been a while since I’ve read Sandman so I honestly didn’t really remember the Dead Boy Detectives. They first appeared in Sandman number twenty-five and then followed that appearance up in a series of crossover annuals from Vertigo titled the Children’s Crusade and then had a four issue mini-series in 2001. Although I haven’t read any of these, I had no problem jumping in on this first issue and understanding who these characters are.

Writer Toby Litt, who I’m also not familiar with, does a great job of introducing these two young (and dead) detectives. Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland are two boys who have died at different times, one in the early 1900’s and one right at the end of the century in 1990. As they investigate their own deaths and their times at the not so well run St. Hilarion school, they also investigate the death of a girl named Crystal. Crystal’s story is just as interesting, if not more so as the boy’s story that, combined with the fantastic and clever art by artist Mark Buckingham, make this a great first issue and one I’m looking forward to following.

Artist Mark Buckingham who’s past Vertigo work includes his long run on the Fables series does fantastic work again! If you’re familiar with his work on Fables, then you’ll know he used to add so much to the panels and margins in Fables, filling the page with creativity and beautiful framework. Here he takes that creativity to the word balloons and narratives. Each of the boys has their own style of narrative caption boxes that represents the era they’re from. Buckingham takes it a step further by giving Crystal her own style, which makes the book easy to follow as you learn each character’s style. There’s scenes in the book that have the caption boxes split, even within the panel. As this series goes along, it will be fun to watch all the different ways that Buckingham uses this style to tell this story. If you’re not familiar with these characters that’s ok, the creative team on this book does a great job through both the writing and the art to give you everything you need to enjoy this first issue.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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