Review by Jerome Maida
RADICAL COMICS may have used last month’s San Diego Comic-Con as a launching pad for a quintet of new titles, but the company is still emphasizing quality over quantity.
A case in point is its new series “Driver for the Dead,” which could easily have been lost among the various books trying to capitalize on the vampire/zombie/undead genre these days. Instead, writer John Heffernan does a fresh take. The “Snakes On A Plane” scribe teams with artist Leonardo Manco to give readers what is becoming commonplace in Radical’s books – writing and visuals that are virtually cinematic in caliber and scope.
In what appears to be a nod to that trend – and also, perhaps, to catch the eye of Hollywood movie producers – the first character we are introduced to is a stoic black man named Mose Freeman – a dead ringer in appearance, action and attitude to Morgan Freeman. Freeman is a “healer” who specializes in the supernatural.
He is called upon to provide his special services to a young, well-to-do couple new to the neighborhood whose son has fallen mysteriously ill. This leads to an exorcism attempt that takes several pages and is highlighted by the boy expelling something that makes Linda Blair’s pea soup in “The Exorcist” seem tame by comparison.
Freeman is unflappable through it all until he is felled and the real story begins. A man with as long and distinguished a career as Freeman, battling demons, zombies and other supernatural creatures, is likely to have quite a few licking their chops to get their hands on his corpse.
There is only one man who can be trusted to keep his corpse safe and deal with the creatures of the night: Alabaster Graves, the Driver For The Dead.
When we first meet him, Graves is transporting a young boy he has to “take care of” before he completes the transformation from dead boy to undead vampire. Graves handles his emotional tasks with the cool detachment of a doctor who has to tell three people they’re terminally ill every day. It’s not pleasant, but it’s his job.
The other star of the book is, arguably, Graves’ hearse, which doesn’t have a working radio or even an 8-track or seatbelts, but has a whole bunch of “safety features” that should entertain readers.
Two main themes run through this book. One is questioning who the true monsters of our society are. The second is the often overlooked issue – in comics especially – of race.
In addition, there are 46 pages of story and a 10-page “Hotwire” preview for only $4.99. Heartily recommended.
Read Jerome’s full article by clicking the image below.