It’s 1940, and a phony body on exhibit in a carnival sideshow suddenly springs to life and shambles away. Not so phony after all, he is John Doe, radio commentator and archenemy of Detroit’s notorious Purple Gang! But why did he disappear in 1930, and why did the mayor, the mob, and the cops all want him dead?
The story of Dead Vengeance is positioned almost as a murder mystery, with the newly awakened John Doe trying to find out how he ended up as a dead body in a carnival side show, and why; who was he before he “died,” and what nefarious scheme could have taken him away from his previous life. Further more, what does he do now he’s awake, and no longer dead?
Dead Vengeance is, apparently, ideal for fans of The Goon, but as I have never read that comic series I can’t truthfully tell you whether that’s true. What I can tell you, though, is that Dead Vengeance #1 is awesome.
Bill Morrison handles both the writing and penciling here, and is joined by Keith Champagne and Carlos Badilla who provide inks and colours respectively. As a creative team they work together very well, giving us a comic that’s very easy on the eyes as you read it. The art style feels like an updated version of a crime comic produced in the late 40’s to early 50’s, but with enough of a modern flavour to feel fresh and exciting to today’s audiences.
Dead Vengeance #1 isn’t exactly laugh out loud funny, but that being said there were several moments where I found myself chortling at a panel, smirking at a conversation held between characters or having a smile at something fairly simple as I read trough this issue; despite the dark subject matter this Dead Vengeance is a surprisingly fun comic, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are some scenes during this comic where it feels very much as if Bill Morrison is poking fun at established tropes, and what would usually be seen as a deus ex machina type coincidence can and should be laughed at in many ways because of how the characters react to those situations. It’s a nice tongue in cheek take on what could easily have been enough to turn some readers away from the comic.
Dead Vengeance may not sound like it’ll be up your alley, and maybe it isn’t but if nothing else you should still flick through the pages when you go to your comics retailer; who knows, maybe you’ll be intrigued. This concept – that of a (possible) murder victim solving their own murder – is one that may not be entirely original, it is presented here with a fresh take and enough humour to make it worth adding to your pull list.
Writer: Bill Morrison Art: Bill Morrison, Keith Champagne, Carlos Badilla
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy