Writer/Artist: Josh Howard
Publisher: Viper Comics
ITíS BACK! And I couldnít be happier! Josh Howardís story of teenage friendship set against a backdrop of occult murder continues in Dead@17ís second mini-series, Blood of Saints.
Before getting into this review, if you have not read the first DEAD@17 series you may want to avoid this evaluation as it spoils some of the original mini-seriesí plot (which will be available as a trade in May, or you can read my previous reviews of DEAD@17 #1 here, DEAD@17 #2 here, DEAD@17 #3 here, and DEAD@17 #4 here).
The last mini-series introduced Nara Leigh Kilday and Hazy Foss to the world. These best friends shared something incredible together, life, death and resurrection. Nara was murdered by a cult to usher in a dark age with her resurrected body as the host for the sectís demonic god. When Nara returned from the dead, she, Hazy, her ex-boyfriend Elijah, and an agent of the Protectorate (the good guys who fight the netherworld) fought the cult and stopped their god, Bolabogg from taking over the resurrected Nara.
With that brief review in mind, the first issue of the new series picks up a few months later with Bolabogg trying to take over nineteen-year-old Violet Grey just as it tried to possess Nara. Violet fights the dark god but canít hold up under the strain like Nara could. Looking for an easy way out, Violet commits suicide to escape the monsterís intrusions.
The story moves on to reintroduce Nara and Hazy. In this series, the main characters have grown a little in the brief time that has passed and are living together in an apartment. Nara is still plagued by thoughts of Bolabogg while, at the same time, unable to return to her former life because she is dead and buried. Hazy, for her part, is trying to get on with her life and get past these last few months. Both women seem to be hitting that point in life where childhood friends grow apart. The understated way Josh is portraying this is well thought-out and executed, very interesting.
The issue is dominated with all the things I now look for in a Josh Howard comic, character, good art, more character, and more good art! There are some wonderfully believable scenes between Nara and Hazy. How Nara reacts to the fact that she is dead in the world and has to disguise herself just to go out of the house is an intriguing development. How differently Hazy and Nara react to their lives and romances as time goes by is another dramatic bit of characterization. The series offers a lovely character examination of two teenage girls growing up on their own.
Josh Howardís Dead@17: Blood of Saints offers a lot of loving detail in the characters. Since some time has passed, each character has changed their hairstyle to something more representative of their current personality. Not radical changes, but subtle ones. Naraís disguise is believable and offsetting enough to make her hard to recognize to the characters within the story but not so hard that the reader is confused.
The story lays the groundwork for an expansion of the Dead@17 universe. Josh is not just re-treading the first series; heís launching the characters into new territory and pushing them into a closer relationship with God even as they grow more distant from each other. It is a very interesting take for a hip, teen sorta comic.
As with the first series, this one speaks to me and leaves me wanting more. I canít recommend it enough!
Another bonus within the pages of this issue is Jessi Lee Nelsonís Dead@17 Pin-Up! Jessi is my girlfriend, so I was extremely proud when she won honorable mention in www.Page32.netís Dead@17 Pin-Up contest. Viper was kind enough to reprint the picture along with the other winners (Sean Stephensí picture is very nice. Thatís another guy to watch out for)!
All of it, the whole Dead@17 comic, makes me a very happy camper!
If you want to try the first few pages and see the covers for the new mini-series go to Viper Comics here.
For more information about Egg, click HERE.
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