Friday, October 9, 2020

Dead@17 #1

 Halloween Post-A-Day 2020, Day 9

Dead@17 #1

 

Josh Howard’s unique skills power this breakout hit

 

Writer – Josh Howard

Artist – Josh Howard

Color – Josh Howard

Letterer – Greg Gatlin

2015

 

Josh Howard has a hit on his hands. Maybe.

 

See Dead@17 is a book riffing on Buffy but using an undead vibe in its heroine. Nara gets killed in this first issue but ends up back among the walking by the final page. Her reason for coming back isn’t clear in this part one of a four-part tale, but she durn sure can kick some undead monster butt.

 

And even though I don’t have the whole story, I am putting my trust in Josh Howard’s vision. I mean, the concept isn’t all that original, but it is very hard to fuck up. Add to that Howard’s very inventive original art style and I find the book easy to like. I’m obviously not alone.

 

Dead@17 did so well that it garnered eight follow-up series after the initial 4 issue mini was done. Most of those were done by Howard. It also got a horror film short that you can watch over at CryptTV or Youtube if you follow this link.

 

l guess seeing is believing though, so I’m going to throw this out to you. Let’s have a quick look here.

 


We begin with two girlfriends saying goodnight and being there for each other’s relationship woes. The very first thing we notice as a comic book audience is the flat, 2-D rendering that Howard gives his characters and the world they inhabit. This is by design and as the story goes on it becomes overwhelming in some panels/characters. I get how this isn’t everyone’s bag, but for me it is just different enough without being annoying that I can unabashed love the inventiveness of the modeling and feel it fits the flow of the story he is telling. There is a “Danny Phantom” kind of vibe to it, or maybe some other low budget Cartoon Network show, that just works. And oddly enough it feels sufficiently urban and hip for me to almost read this with a Latino vibe going for it. Not that I think Howard is a Latino, just that the flavoring of the story feels very… young, spicy, and mildly like gangsta graffiti. Maybe it’s the almond shape he gives all the females eyes or something or it could just all be in my head.

 

 
Anyway, Hazy drops off Nara at her house. Nara goes in, gets ready for bed, and is promptly murdered by being stabbed to death in her own bathroom.

 

As Nara passes from this Earth, Hazy has a nightmare that awakens her and she speaks Nara’s name.

 


Flashforward to Hazy morning at Nara’s grave when along comes this suspicious character claiming to be “Special Agent Noel Raddermer.” He’s working Nara’s case and wants to speak with Hazy. Ask her some questions or some such, is the excuse he gives. She blows him off. Instead she meets with her friend Elijah, who is not the guy she broke things off with.

 




Turns out he’s Nara’s ex and he has a story about how all that came about due to him witnessing a bizarre dream Nara had…

 


So this dream caused them to break up, and both of them wish that they could have done something to help Nara before she was gone. Be careful what you wish for, folks.

 

Turn the page and it appears that Hazy has been asked down to the police station for follow-up questions about Nara’s death. The detective with the odd-shaped face asks some pretty provocative questions about what Nara was into, like the occult and satanism.

 

 

Turns out she had a rather strange diary, and then we cut to a lake scene with a different couple. It starts out cute, but ends up being a horrific zombie attack (is the lead zombie supposed to be her boyfriend?). All this happens before we jump cut back to Hazy trying to make sense of the weird things found in Nara’s diary.

 



Her investigation of the diary may have to wait as a report comes in about the two missing teens and the detective has to rush out. Not before letting it drop that the FBI is NOT involved in the case (so who is the mysterious agent Raddermer?) and leaving Hazy alone with the diary.


Then we get a page of Hazy’s horrible home life, before revealing that she stole the diary because of course she did. Her perusal of that book is cut short by a loud bang.

 


And that’s when the zombies bust in…

 

Hazy is laid out on the floor and about to be…raped? Eaten? Kissed by zombie breath? Turned? I don’t know the stakes here, but bad things will happen to her in a minute…

 


…except that a mysterious savior comes in and axes the zombies all to pieces.


And the mysterious savior turns out to be Nara, back from the grave and dressed in a schoolgirl uniform (no one buries someone in a schoolgirl uniform).


I enjoyed this romp. It isn’t deadly serious and, like a confection, it is over far too quickly to offend in any way. It is cliché’ed and full of tropes, but done in a stylish manner. I’m going to say it is a definite pull for me and leave it at that. If you aren’t a fan of the art style, I can see how that might detract though.

 

Now if only it will get picked up by a Netflix or Amazon Prime…

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