Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Art by: Ryan Bodenheim & Michael Garland
We have a new book from the crazy mind of Jonathan Hickman, and it looks to be making for the kind of grand story we’ve come to expect from him. Partnering up with Hickman are Ryan Bodenheim on art, and Michael Garland on colors.
In the beginning of the comic we’re introduced to a woman named Andrea who is in the middle of her wedding. Tragedy strikes and we are let in on the beginning of what will be a very interesting part of the grand story. What the team is working on here is a truly cinematic experience. This entire beginning to the story is basically one long pre-credit sequence and it really plays well to bring you into the story and set the stage for what comes next in the rest of the issue. The longer panels add a lot of dramatic effect coupled with the credits for the book.
The majority of this sixty-four page monster of a first issue almost immediately shifts its focus over to Edward Canning, or the Colonel as many refer to him throughout the book. We’re presented a man with a dying wife who would do just about anything. It’s then he is presented with a deal from a man called the Courier that could save his wife. The concept of death is something Hickman loves to play around with. You can see it in his Avengers runs, East of West, and now this series. Each one has a different take on death and it’ll be interesting to see how that evolves as it has started similarly to the others.
Ryan Bodenheim really handles himself well during the entire issue creating really beautiful landscapes across a couple double-page spreads. I think where he really pulls things off well is with the inhabitants of “the City.” The Courier is always obscured which doesn’t let you get a read on him past what you see his mouth do. As creepy as that can be, the woman known as “the Bishop” comes off even creepier. The way Bodenheim draws her face makes it almost look like there’s a mask on her. Every time she is on panel there is just something off and unsettling with her.
One of the biggest accomplishments here is how Michael Garland is able to add to that cinematic quality and build upon it with his colors. During that “pre-credits sequence” he shows us the shift in locations by only coloring them in a single color. It carries on through out the issue as you only see certain characters colored in a single color whenever they’re brought up again. Once we leave Andrea, the Colonel and Courier (and his ilk) get their own color palette that shows who the focus of the sequence is. If you’re reading this digitally do yourself a favor and switch to a view mode that lets you see all the pages at once and look at the color progression of the entire issue. It’s a great thing to look at how Garland works with the story.
The Dying and the Dead #1 is the beginning of another epic from Jonathan Hickman sure to lead you through many mind-bending and thought provoking places.