Comic Review: Dead@17 by Josh Howard

6522341This was one of those books I picked up on a whim while at Wizard World in Chicago this past year. I was looking for something on the darker side with interesting artwork and a female protagonist. With a real gothic Buffy the Vampire or Supernatural vibe, Dead@17 seemed to fit the bill.

The Blurb

When 17-year-old Nara Kilday is murdered at the hands of a demonic cult, the quiet suburb of Darlington Hills is turned upside down. But when Nara inexplicably returns form the dead, what seems like a miracle at first may in fact spell the end for mankind! This volume collects the entire DEAD@17 saga: DEAD@17, DEAD@17: Blood of Saints, DEAD@17: Revolution, and DEAD@17: The 13th Brother.

My Take?

I was sorely disappointed by this one.

The artwork was really what first attracted me to this book. At first glance, the pages had a very gothic and edgy look with bright splashes of color, a dark but fun read. After diving in, I found the artwork to be amateurish, repetitive, and blocky. The characters were extremely difficult to distinguish between because everyone looked alike, differing only in hair style and eye color. To the artist’s credit, the artwork did seem to improve by the fourth (and final) chapter.

Although the story seemed promising, a young girl resurrected from the dead to kick ass against supernatural forces, the plot was convoluted and poorly executed. It attempted to mix relationship problems, parental abandonment, and drug abuse issues into a story mainly focusing on an occult battle between the forces of good and evil. Such levels of interwoven plot and subplot have the potential for an amazing comic, but this particular book failed to tie all these pieces together, instead choosing to kill off any loose ends. The scenes existed only in two extremes: boring dialogue sections with confusingly organized speech balloons, or on the opposite end, ultra-gory death scenes. I was particularly disappointed because some of the concepts touched on in this story were actually very interesting, including the resurrection of Joan of Arc and angelic James-Bond-like agents.

I also had an issue with the hyper-sexualization of… well, pretty much everything in this book. The artist used every opportunity to display naked or almost naked young women: dressing in scantily clad schoolgirl outfits, being stabbed to death while wearing only underwear, getting clothes torn off during battle scenes, working as strippers, disrobing for obscure religious ceremonies, committing suicide in a bathtub, skinny dipping with zombies, baring all on the astral plain…. I mean seriously? It was kind of ridiculous.

So, if you’re looking for a colorful comic with a few interesting ideas about the occult and want to look at drawings of naked underage women, this might be a good story for you. I give Dead@17 Two out of Five Stars.

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