Sunday, January 16, 2011

Image Firsts: Hack/Slash and Dead@17 - Part 2

Earlier this week our friend and regular correspondent Simon Breeze posted the first part of his two-part look at a couple of 'firsts' from Image Comics. Having explored the first issue of Hack/Slash in some detail Simon now turns his attentions to another title that he describes as 'similar yet very different indeed': Dead@17.

Dead@17 - reviewed by Simon Breeze
Written by Josh Howard with art by Josh Howard
Published by Image Comics

Dead@17 follows the story of Nara Kilday, who, as the books title hints at, is killed (within this first issue) at the age of just 17 only to then, as the title does not elude too, mysteriously return to life at the end of the issue as an axe-swinging zombie killer!

The story starts by following Nara as she returns home after a night out with her friend Hazy Foss. It is a very wordy first page, but I mean that only as a comparison to the following five pages or so where hardly a word is spoken. As I say, I'm not pointing this out as a negative, in fact quite the opposite, the first five or six pages of this comic are brilliantly paced and tell the story of Nara Kilday’s demise fantastically - they are an excellent example of the rest of this comics well-paced story telling.

From this point onwards, the story turns its attentions to Hazy Foss and Elijah (another friend of the departed Nara) and how between them they are coming to terms with the loss of their dear friend.

Through Hazy and Elijah, we discover that Nara was plagued with bizarre and violent dreams where she would act out the nightmares she had experienced. In one such nightmare, she even attacked Elijah to wake later with no recollection of the event ... or did she?

We also discover that the police are taking quite an interest in her death and have uncovered a diary that Nara kept. The diary starts out, as a normal teenage girl’s diary might however, around 16 years of age through the pages of the diary, Nara starts explaining how she is hearing voices and seeing strange things such as demons, visions of hell and she makes references to the occult. All very mysterious indeed. The pages of the diary are also full of strange symbols, random words, and disturbing phrases. As the police officer puts it, ‘... your friend was a seriously disturbed young lady.’

Hazy is more than confused about this turn of events and returns to her home and her mother where after a falling out, which seems quite a common event between her and her mother, she calls her friend Elijah to discuss her discoveries of their mutual friend, Nara. Before Elijah can put in an appearance, zombies randomly appear and break down Hazy’s front door and start to attack her in her home. Just as Hazy is about to become zombie fodder, an axe swinging, schoolgirl uniform clad Nara appears and hacks the zombies to bits. To be continued ...

This comic sounds a bit bonkers, mainly because it is! The good thing about its bonkersness (if that is a word?! [Zaius: I don't think it is Simon!]) is that it is an enjoyable and intriguing bonkers that kept me hooked from the very first page. Throughout the story you are introduced to several characters and situations, all adding to the curiosity of what is going on, because even when you finish this first issue you still don’t really know for sure, you have an idea, but nothing you would put good money on.

That is the key to this comic’s story, it feels like a murder mystery, and teen horror all rolled into one and that is why I enjoyed it so much. In addition, I cannot help but get a ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ vibe about Dead@17, I think it is the suggestion of a teenage girl fighting demons and the occult. This is not a bad thing as Buffy was an inspired and original idea, and I cannot help but get the impression that Dead@17 is going to serve the genre of teenage demon killing girl well.

All-in-all a really solid comic and I have no hesitation in giving it a zombie splatting four out of five and I will be picking up a few more issues.

Thank you to
Simon for this weeks contributions - enjoyable, considered and thought provoking as always. On a personal note I've also recently read both of these first issues from Image Comics and likewise found them enjoyable: two very well written stories accompanied by some fantastic art - I particularly appreciated the 'quirky' art style through Dead@17 I must say.