Rating: 4.5/5 – A Must Read for Fans of Jonathan Hickman’s Sci-Fi World Building.
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas
The Dying and the Dead left me with a lot of questions, number one being just what type of world the main characters live in and who the mysterious race of stark white humanoids are. Even though there are no answers to the world that main character Colonel James Canning is a part of, I came to the end of this premier issue desperately wanting to know more. Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Ryan Bodenheim do an outstanding job of simplifying the premise, all the while creating a larger world with plenty of complexity to be figured out over time.
At its core, the Dying and the Dead is about a man who wants to save his wife who is dying from cancer. He’s given a mission of retrieving an unknown artifact, and if he succeeds his wife will be saved. Simple premise, but Hickman surrounds that premise with beautiful underground ancient worlds, clones, and a deep dive into the concepts of morality and making choices. It’s never a confusing read, but Hickman doesn’t give you much more past that. He introduces plenty of mystery that over the course of this series will hopefully reveal itself. Hickman challenges the reader to go along for the ride and accept what you don’t know. By the end of this first issue I was given enough to come back for more not only from the writing, but also from the brilliant art by Ryan Bodenheim.
Bodenheim could be described as a marriage of the styles of Charles Burns and Steve Dillon. It’s a clean pencil line that goes into great detail, and sometimes disturbingly so. His opening pages has a lot of violence and it’s all depicted wonderfully, with colors that contribute to the scene’s intensity. In a key sequence, the main narrative is colored in lovely blues and creams, while the enemies who slowly invade are colored in different shades of red as the scene leads to a horrific conclusion. The colors throughout this book lend to the atmosphere, and work perfectly alongside the art. Visually this books stands out in its balance of simplicity and detail and should not be missed.
Bodenheim is a special talent and that talent is definitely on display over the course of this issue’s sixty pages! Sixty pages for $4.50 is a steal with the level of quality in this book. There’s a lot of story here and throughout this issue I questioned things about this world and about choices and questions we’re all forced to make and answer in our own lives. Hickman has seemingly done it again with the start of a brand new series that looks to be definitely on par with his other acclaimed creator-owned books like Manhattan Projects and East of West. And that’s saying something.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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