Review by Michael Roberts
Plot: Driver for the Dead is the story of Alabaster Graves, a seasoned veteran of strange occurrences who drives a heavily modified hearse built specifically for transporting the corpses of special clients. The late Mose Freeman, a powerful healer and exorcist, is Graves’ current assignment.
Comments: The longer format books from Radical have a different pace than regular 22-page issues. Writers are given the freedom to explain characters’ motivations and complex plot points more thoroughly. In theory, this seems a great idea and an automatic win for readers, though in practice the stories can feel bogged down in explanation. Issue #2 of the Driver for the Dead series kept things moving with scenes of dark violence and action, but this is a dense book. 56 pages create a lot of space to tell story, and artist Leonardo Manco only drew two one-page spreads. The dense flow of action and information began to drag during some of the conversations in the car between Graves and Mose’s granddaughter. I was interested in finding out Graves’ past, but his motivation is fairly simple for the amount of pages used.
Artist Leonardo Manco and the colorists truly succeed in setting up a dark and spooky version of Louisiana. Interestingly enough, very little of the story so far has actually been spent in New Orleans, the focus of most comics set in Louisiana. For the most part, the two issues have focused on Lafayette (western Louisiana) and the swamps between the cities. Swamps at night time are already creepy places, and a horror story in the middle of this environment has an automatic advantage over other horror tales. Add in a group of undead cultic beings and heaps of bloody violence, and the alligators seem like the friendly inhabitants in the swamp.
Final Word: Driver for the Dead is a moody horror tale featuring gorgeously painted art of Louisiana swamps. Check out the art and give it a flip-through test to see if it’s the right book for you.
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