By Jason Rosas
Driver for the Dead #1 (of 3) by Radical Comics sounded like it was just another comic book hitched to the zombie bandwagon. Luckily, in creator/writer John Heffernan’s (Snakes on a Plane) capable hands, Driver for the Dead succeeds in paying homage to the horror genre by borrowing elements not only from the zombies, but also vampires, demonic possession, witchcraft, and slasher gore. Illustrator Leonardo Manco (Hellblazer) was a nice fit for the project given his background drawing brooding, troubled, unshaven, and wrinkle-suited protagonists. The only set-back to an otherwise entertaining tale was the glaring oversell for this title as a potential Hollywood script.
At the start of the book set in Louisiana, Moses Freeman, a stoic, aging black man who shares a striking resemblance to Academy Award Winner Morgan Freeman, performs a complicated exorcism of a home in Shreveport, Louisiana. Unfortunately, Freeman does not survive the ritual and sends word that his body be properly handled by Alabaster Graves, a professional hearse driver. Graves is skilled in interring persons of the supernatural persuasion, using a suped-up hearse named Black Betty as his transportation of choice. Graves recognizes that this assignment will be tricky as many would want possession of Freeman’s remains. However, Graves must also deal with Freeman’s great-granddaughter, Marissa, who will not take no for an answer. As it turns out, Graves will be hunted by Fallow, a zombie vampire of sorts, who can absorb the abilities of the supernaturally gifted and has been reviving other entities.
To say that Driver for the Dead was cinematic would be an understatement; as everything about Driver for the Dead screams “Make me into a movie! Look, Morgan Freeman would be great!” Manco’s work, though excellent in general, here makes the book seem a bit unoriginal. Graves could just as easily be John Constantine. Nevertheless, Heffernan, as he did with Snakes on a Plane, makes what could be a campy tale, into a fast and loose joyride through the supernatural horror-scape. Hopefully, Manco won’t go for the PG-13 version he has produced so far; this could play out like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV show). But it ought to feel more Tarantino/Rodriquez/Roth-ish. That the setting is in Louisiana after the floods, where overturned graveyards abound, just makes for more fun and a huge set of possibilities. Hang onto your seats because Driver for the Dead promises to take you on a helluva ride.
Overall Rating 8/10
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