Kara O'Connor

Comic Review: The Dying and The Dead #1

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Prepare for a new kind of adventure from Jonathan Hickman and artist Ryan Bodenheim, with The Dying and The Dead #1.

The Dying and The Dead #1

The Dying and The Dead

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Ryan Bodenheim
Colors: Michael Carlin
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: January 28, 2015

Kick off 2015 with the latest Hickman title. Pick up Dying and the Dead #1 now.

A little bit sci-fi, a little bit western, but more of a thriller/espionage/love story, Hickman manages to smoothly cram just about every genre of literary fiction into this heroic little story.

Jonathan Hickman is perhaps best known for his warped method of storytelling in books like East of West and The Manhattan Projects, and The Dying and The Dead shouldn’t be left out of the pack. Although the story revolves around the general idea of mortality and how we deal with death, it doesn’t forget to include odd iconic relics, ghost-like clergy, lost cities and fated pacts.

The Dying and The Dead’s story begins in 1969 Greece in the middle of an opulent wedding. Before long, the joyous occasion is interrupted by a flurry of masked soldiers on the hunt for something specific but unknown. After killing every single person at the party, including the wedding band, the troopers make off with the coveted item – the Bah al’Sharur. This ancient artifact serves as the story’s decisive catalyst and sets off a domino effect. Two weeks later in New Mexico, an elderly man sits at his wife’s bedside and holds her hand in her dying hours. After the doctor leaves the room, confirming the wife (Clair) has very little time, a mysterious man offers the husband (The Colonel) a solution. The Colonel agrees to hear the mystery man out and travels with him into the desert. When they reach a small chapel, they enter and are greeted by chalky white amazons who lead him down into a secret underground city. The Colonel, who has been to this underground city before, sits with his old friend The Bishop who offers him a parlay. If the Colonel retrieves the Bah al’Sharur for their people, the Bishop will save his dying wife from the brink of death.

The story continues to twist and turn beyond what I’ve shared here, but I would hate to give away such beautiful and carefully planned storytelling. Hickman continues to titillate with his particular method of slow-building an introduction to a story, and his dialogue punches with deep reflections on morality. One of the characters marvels at the way humans deal with death and proclaims “this is the nature of living. Being judged and defined by the choices you make.” Deeply profound, and very true. Artist Ryan Bodenheim creates interesting characters and finds a way to take Hickman’s subconscious visions and bring them to life, which I imagine is a hefty task. Additionally, Michael Carlin’s colors always punctuate the correct emotion and tone of the particular section they inhabit.

While the story includes mysterious and often frightening creatures and situations, the real fear comes from the overarching theme of life vs. death. The idea that there is an ending for all of us – and that we can’t always change our particular fate – can be bone-chilling to say the least. Pick up The Dying and the Dead now, before it’s too late.

Sound interesting? Try Hickman’s other titles too: East Of West TPB Vol. 01 The Promise, East Of West TPB Vol. 02 We Are All One, East of West TPB Vol. 03 There Is No Us, Manhattan Projects TPB Vol. 01 Science Bad, Manhattan Projects TPB Vol. 02, Manhattan Projects TPB Vol. 03, Manhattan Projects TPB Vol. 04 Four Disciplines, Manhattan Projects TPB Vol. 05 The Cold War, or go way back with Transhuman TPB Vol. 01 and Nightly News TPB Vol 1.

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