With the second issue of Death Head, we pick right back up with all of the characters that we were introduced to last time. If you remember my review of the first issue, my biggest complaint was that the opening scenes and all of the characters are pretty much things we’ve seen over and over again in horror movies. It was all feeling a bit cliche to the point that I was expecting it to turn into parody. Fortunately, this time around things go into a much more interesting direction.
Most of this issue focuses on the couple, Margaret and Niles. Having survived a dip in an incinerator and just barely making it past our resident Plague Doctor Masked killer, they’re back from their super fun vacation and Niles attempts to find out more about this creepy village that they stumbled upon. It mostly leads to dead ends, but my curiosity is piqued. On top of this, he’s not feeling all that well. He’s still carrying around one of the good doctor’s masks and it seems to be having an effect on him. He’s seeing things, getting nosebleeds, and muttering something about a lighthouse. Super weird.
I mentioned last time that there were hints of the supernatural, but this time around we dive head first into it. When we touch back in with Bee, the boy who was being bullied in the first issue, he’s got a new friend. He met a little girl named Rosie while hiding in the sewers and she doesn’t seem to be entirely alive. In fact, she’s a full-on ghost and now appears to be following him. This scene really helps break some of the tension from the rest of the book and seeing Bee interact with this girl that is clearly floating two feet in the air without any fear whatsoever is kind of fun. Their relationship so far is charming, though there is a clear and present danger to her that is made very apparent. Still, Bee doesn’t seem to be concerned.
The main thing that this book does that helps it over the previous issue is that we get much more of a sense of mystery as well as some real moments of horror. Aside from Rosie the ghost girl, there are other weird things going on like the mask having some kind of powers. Also in keeping with the Bubonic Plague theme there’s a pretty great scene involving a large number of rats. A lot of questions are peppered throughout this issue and in general I’ve found myself more invested in finding out the answers now that don’t think I know where it’s going.
Once again, Joanna Estep’s artwork is great. She has an eye for good compositions and “camera angles.” The heavy black areas in the inking department do wonders to create some really moody moments and we even get to see a few pretty interesting things 19thanks to Niles going a little off the deep end. There are some borderline psychedelic moments that use much brighter purples and blues than the rest of the book to great effect. We also finally see how she handles the gorier parts of the horror genre and I’d say they’re done very well. There’s a pretty classic death scene here that stands out solely because of how well it’s drawn.
I was hoping that this book would go in a direction that was less cliche than the way that it started, and thankfully it has. We got some more blood this time around, more weirdness, and most importantly more mystery. We found out that our three storylines were connected in exactly the way that I expected them to be, but everything else from the first issue has totally not gone where I thought it would. I’m really interested to see where it goes from here, and for a second issue of a comic series, I can’t think of a higher compliment.
Wicked Rating: [usr 8]