Friday, September 4, 2015
(NOTE: This review was originally intended to go up on Adventures in Poor Taste, but things change and now the review can be found here.)
After disappearing off the face of the Earth for five months because of many delays, Jonathan Hickman’s The Dying and the Dead has finally returned. If you recall from the past, the last issue was big improvement over the first issue of the series, developing or expanding on the characters. Can this issue get that momentum from last time going again? Is it good?
The Dying and the Dead #3 (Image Comics)
The recent of issue of The Dying and the Dead, after all this time, is sadly disappointing. On a positive note, this comics gives us the backstory to the ultimate weapon and some of the history behind the Baduri, the people who are whiter than white in this story. It’s interesting to hear and learn about (providing some context and stakes for the previous issues), even though it is presented in the same voice that Hickman uses for all of his characters delivering exposition. This information could have maybe been fitted in the comic elsewhere earlier on instead of the third issue, but for what we get it, there’s potential.
However, the rest of the issue leaves a lot to be desired unfortunately. While a good chunk of the issue involves the history portion, the rest of the issues deals with the AXIS leaders from World War II talking to one another about their big plan to use this ultimate weapon. While it seems like it could be interesting, this entire portion of the comic is incredibly dull and lifeless. The leaders are boring themselves and outside of Hirohiti’s god complex, easily feel like they could have been substitute for any bad guy or evil leader in time, whether real or fictional, due to their lack of presence. The dialogue is the same way, just kind of delivered in the same dry, empty tone and speech pattern that a lot of characters in the writer’s previous works have. The story is very decompressed and felt like it could have been cut in half if the artist didn’t use as big of panels and the opening pages were dropped completely (the entire history portion of the comic covered those pages perfectly fine). The ending itself is a bit dull as well, since the comic ends up petering out and the final pages feel like they serve a purpose to remind the audience that these people still existed.
Then there is artwork and it’s not without its problem as well. While Ryan Bodenheim does a decent job of drawing distinctive and memorable characters, easy to tell apart from one another, and his layouts are constructed well, he is very guilty of helping make this comic feel decompressed and sometimes lack energy. His action is not that impressive looking (when a guy gets stabbed with a spear, it looks more like the spear was pasted on than going through him) and it flows awkwardly at times. The backgrounds are usually empty and some objects seem off if you look at them for a while, like how cup in one panel seems warped and is bending. None of this is especially helped by Michael Garland’s colors, which still look really lacking dull to the constant use of brown, yellows, and oversaturated colors. It makes the images look less intense or lack punch since they are not particularly eye-catching. It’s a shame, since a change in colorist could easily make the artwork better.
Is It Good?
The Dying and the Dead #3, after a solid second issue, feels like a step back. Due to a lack of progression and eventfulness in the comic, especially after so many delays, the issue is downright disappointing and does not help excite or entice the readers into sticking around. At the end of the issue, Hickman acknowledges the delay issues and promises to get the comic back on track for next year at some unknown date. While a nice sentiment, I just don’t feel confident in recommending the issue or even the series at this point. The Dying and the Dead is just not worth your time currently, especially when you could easily check out a better Hickman book, East of West.
Final Score: 4.5
+ Interesting history and ideas presented.
+ Some of the artwork is nice.
+ Lacking in story and character.
+ Sadly dull and doesn’t have much happening.
+ The colors are visually lacking.