Review by Jason Wilkins
After losing both Marissa Freeman and the corpse of her great-grandfather Mose during an undead ambush in the middle of the swamp, so-called “driver for the dead” Alabaster Graves discovers rescuing his client and her precious cargo won’t be as easy as he thinks. First, he must retrieve a magical knitting needle from the chest of an old bayou werewolf called “the Loup-Garoux”, so that he can stop the necromancer Fallow, once and for all.
It all sounds a little high-fallutin’ for a comic about a guy who drives around in a turbo-charged hearse with enough hardware to outfit a platoon of marines but somehow it works in Driver for the Dead. Writer John Heffernan formulates what is essentially a simple battle between good and evil, injects it with a jolt of high octane, Southern-fried creepy juice and lets rip with a fast-paced, character-driven horror-action romp that manages to keep the audience engaged and entertained from beginning to end.
Tapping into some intriguing subject matter in the form of African-American history, voodoo, and myths from around the world, Heffernan succeeds in building a lush, shadowy yet sometimes sun-drenched world, around the rich cultural tapestry of the Deep South. This is a world of dark gods masquerading as saints, love potions, charms, and wards against evil.
Heffernan does an exceptional job of weaving all of this into a believable, functioning whole, populating his world with fully-developed, realistic characters. His dialogue is fantastic, richening already impeccable characterization. Everyone in the series speaks with their own distinct voice, from Graves to Fallow to Pearl’s trailer trash relatives. Combined with Leonardo Manco’s beautifully realistic yet expressive artwork, Heffernan’s keen ear for dialogue and understanding of motivation allow the characters in Driver for the Dead to feel fully realized the first time the audience meets them – imperative in a three issue miniseries.
The collaboration between Heffernan and Manco appears effortless and organic. Sometimes creators just click. This is one of those times. There’s something inherent in the finished product, a fluidity between the words and pictures that seems almost telepathic. Manco’s a master at using reference. That is to say, despite an ultra-realistic style, he refrains from using too much reference and descending into photo-realism. There’s just enough exaggeration and a ton of brilliant design sense embedded in every page, panel, and character. His facial expressions are particularly emotive and easy to relate to, the tempered realism helping the audience to connect to characters without feeling like they’re watching a movie.
Showcasing the talents of a truly amazing collaboration, Driver for the Dead quickly became one of my favorite reads of the winter. Now that the series is over, I can’t wait for the inevitable collection to hit the shelves. I get the feeling that despite the issue breaks, this is a series that will read even better as a trade paperback.
Click here to read the original article at BrokenFrontier.com!