Dead Vengeance #1 is completely unlike anything I’ve seen in comics or horror in recent years. Bill Morrison’s name may be familiar to comic fans, thanks to his co-founding of Bongo Comics with Matt Groening and Steve & Cindy Vance. But so far Dead Vengeance is all grit. The story opens on a carnival side show. Along with a two-headed rattlesnake, a mummified Fijian mermaid, and other oddities there rests a “genuine preserved human corpse”. Unlike the questionable half-woman, half-spider, the body proves to be legitimate when it returns to consciousness!
This first issue follows “John Doe” as he struggles to remember who he is, and how he might have traveled ten years into the future. Prior to reappearing ten years later as a phony sideshow corpse, Johnny Dover was a radio announcer who made an enemy of Detroit’s Purple Gang. Although it’s difficult to create suspenseful thrillers that tell stories by way of memories and flashbacks, Morrison has succeeded. By combining his own love of the horror genre with his passion for 1940s history, he has created a winning read for nostalgic comic fans.
Although this issue of the miniseries was penciled by Morrison rather than drawn by the inking artist Keith Champagne, the artwork isn’t lacking. According to past interviews, when the series was originally pitched by Morrison to Dark Horse he intended to write and draw each issue, so readers would feel they were getting a more genuine representation of what Morrison had in mind. Colorwork by Carlos Badilla perfectly supports the dark tone of the story, and readers will appreciate subtle utilization of color that clearly defines the boundary between the living and the dead, as well as the past and the present.
Although there aren’t any conventional “scares” in this volume, the fact that the main character is a reanimated corpse is enough to justify its place in the horror genre. With that being said, it will probably also merit sharing with comic loving friends who don’t necessarily like horror films or enjoy horror comics. While the actual plot suggests readers should expect more of a “thriller” feel from this miniseries, horror fans who appreciate a gripping narrative will find that the story line is sufficient to justify picking up Dead Vengeance. As soon as you finish issue 1, you’ll know you need to read more!
Dead Vengeance #1 will be available in comic shops October 7th, but is available for Pre-Order now through Things From Another World.
WICKED RATING: 8/10