Review by Troy Mayes
Driver for the Dead #2
Radical continue to pump out new characters in wholly new mini-series with Driver for the Dead. The second issue of this Supernatural-esque series sees the action really start to heat up but does the story remain strong throughout the 60-page comic?
Alabaster Graves is a driver for the dead. He’s the most bad-ass hearse driver you’ll ever meet with the most bad-ass hearse you’ll ever see down in New Orleans. The state’s top voodoo healer Mose Freeman, who had a bit of Morgan Freeman to him, has died and Graves has to pick him up. Freeman’s great granddaughter demands to come along. The pair aren’t the only ones after Freeman as we are introduced to a Necromancer called Uriah Fallow who is harvesting the body parts of New Orleans gifted citizens and Mose Freeman would be the ultimate prize.
The issue contains a lot of dialogue and character exposition. We find out about the background of Alabaster and Freeman and his grand-daughter. We discover Fallow’s ultimate goal and are introduced to the way to stop him. Overall, it’s a lot of information for the reader to take in at one time although it is sorely needed to help set-up the finale. This information is given exclusively through dialogue that has a natural, conversational feel to it.
The issue doesn’t have the same wow factor as the first as we are slowly settling into Graves world and I didn’t get through it quite as quickly as the first. One thing I’ve also noticed is Graves doesn’t really sound how I imagine Cajuns. Maybe I’m a little too influenced by Gambit and the early 90’s X-Men TV show but a lil more cher and petit would have helped sell the character in my mind.
What the issue manages to enhance is our sense of Fallow as a force to be reckoned with. The way he mutilates the gifted and takes their power and then perverts it for evil shows he’s a ruthless, cold-blooded killer with a slight resemblance to The Undertaker but then there’s this strange dialogue that gives he an even more creepy feeling. For instance, he remarks, “My men appear indisposed. Even more so than usual. Perhaps you could give me a hand,” before taking off the hand. Throughout the book Fallow has a way with words that’s well thought out, well written and highly entertaining.
Whatever the story might lack in wow factor is easily made up for due to some brilliant artwork from Leonardo Manco. Manco captures the horror aspect of the story through his brutal and gory depiction of violence while his use of color suits the book well. There’s never extreme dark or light, everything has this muted look that works really well with the tone of the book. There’s also good framing and composition like once again with Fallow he responds “but to answer your question…This is who I am” and the panel is constructed with a top down view of a girl being torn to shreds and you get that sense that the image is a comment on who Fallow is. There were only a few minor complaints with the artwork. At first I actually thought the good witch at the end was a man with boobs and that just freaked me out. It took me a while to recognize the face as a woman’s face while one splash-page towards the end Alabaster is almost fused with his car due to the use of black and lack of pencil lines.
Driver for the Dead #2 is a bloody and violent voodoo filled adventure that doesn’t quite reach the amazing heights of issue #1 but is still a thoroughly enjoyable read. Manco’s gorgeously violent artwork and Heffernan’s brilliant voodoo story make it worth your money.
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