Writer/Artist: Josh Howard
Publisher: Viper Comics
In the penultimate chapter of Revolution, Nara finds herself fighting alongside Heaven’s Militia in a last-ditch effort to stop the Anti-Christ’s ascension. The devil Bolabogg has taken human form in accordance with the prophecy and is poised to win the heart of America. The Militia’s mysterious leader, who may be the reborn soul of Joan of Arc, has a plan to strike at the demon through his advisor, James Freehorn, but she’ll need Nara’s help. As a resurrected, Nara can’t be killed, so she has nothing to fear, right? The enigmatic Raddemer thinks otherwise and has gone to enlist the aid of Nara’s friends Elijah and Hazy. But the couple has their own trouble to deal with.
One part Buffy the Vampire Slayer, two parts My So-called Life, Josh Howard’s Dead@17 is a crafty mix of supernatural adventure and teenage melodrama. Nara is doomed not only to fight the forces of darkness, but also to remain seventeen years old for eternity, a situation that inspires both hope and hopelessness in one neatly-wrapped package. In Revolution, Nara has tenuously aligned herself with a group claiming to represent Heaven, who display their holiness with an assassination attempt on a leading presidential candidate. While it is difficult to view this comic outside the context of the recent real-world American election, Howard wisely refrains from punditry. Senator Alcasan offers views consistent with his role as the Anti-Christ, but… well, all else being equal he still might be the lesser of two evils. Best stick one’s eyes to the story at hand.
Howard’s art, too, is refreshingly distinct. Showing influences of Japanese and American animation, he nevertheless diverges from both without wallowing in the flat and unimpressive “American manga” style. The cover, too, is eye-catching, reminiscent of propaganda posters, with a lightning-torn pentagram as an emblem of revolution.
With a lively cast of characters, a youthful sensibility, and a unique take on Revelations, Josh Howard’s Dead@17: Revolution is one of the year’s best unexpected treats so far.
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