The Dead #4 Review

Written by: James Maddox

Art by: Jen Hickman

Publisher: Self Published (Available on Comixology & Amazon)

The Dead is an indie series quickly growing in popularity, and after reading it seems to have a good reason for doing so. The series follows recently deceased Sam who wakes up in “The House of the Lost”, which is where you go when you die. Sam becomes a bottle hunter, searching for rare artefacts in order to trade for information. The series displays a great deal of imagination even with an idea that’s been done before (I was particularly reminded of Dead Letters, especially with the main character being called Sam) and manages to be highly entertaining and definitely worthy of your time.

The newest issue provides some background information on a few of the books main characters so far, in particular Alex and his obsession with Arthur, who has been a source of mystery in the series so far. It’s great to have some light shed on the relationship between these two men as so far there has been little context given which has sometimes made the series feel a little conclusion. I have not minded so much as learning about the world and seeing Maddox’s creative ideas has provided more than enough entertainment, but now that we’re four issues in I’m glad that we’re beginning to see a tighter plot take shape. Some hints are dropped towards future developments that give an ominous sense of foreboding, particularly regarding the horrifying zoo that’s been developed over the last few issues.

My only real complaint about the story is how fast paced it is. I feel with all that book throws at you some breathing room would be much appreciated. You hardly have time to let the developments sink in before you’re launched immediately into something else. It can make the events seem a bit less important and can make things a little bit confusing given what feels like massive time skips between issues. Perhaps it’s because I read this all at once, but this feels like it’d read a lot better on a month to month basis rather than in a collected format.

Getting back to the positive, Hickman gives the book a really nice art-style which manages to be as fluid and varied as Maddox’s writing. The script calls for a lot of varied locations within “the house” so it’s great to see Hickman consistently rise to the challenge and create some really unique locations that feel strangely familiar yet other-wordly. Her eye for creature designs is great too, which each monster looking visually distinct and interesting, helping with the aforementioned sense of dread due to them being stored all in one place. It’s a really nice style for the book that manages to keep up with the large ideas being thrown at you.

The first four issues of the series are available right now on Comixology and I’d definitely recommend the series as being worthy for your time. It has some really unique and fascinating concepts and looks to be heading in a really interesting direction. I’d recommend taking your time with this series though and digesting it bit by bit rather reading it all at once like I did though.