Review: The Dying & The Dead #1

Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Ryan Bodenheim and Michael Garland
Price: $4.50

Hickman is a busy guy these days. I guess destroying the Marvel Universe isn’t enough for the master of epic storytelling so here we are with another Image number one. So is this new Hickman epic worth jumping on or should you leave this expensive tale about bedpans on the shelve?

The Good

I’m not gonna lie, I am really intrigued about what is going on here. Usually I come out of a Hickman number one issue just scratching my head because everything I read sounded like garbled nonsense. Sure, it is always good garbled nonsense that made makes actual sense down the road, but it still frustrated me a little bit. I didn’t get that feeling here and I completely attribute it to how long this issue is. Hickman was able to take his time and slowly introduce his complex ideas instead of just throwing them at us all at once like he has done in the past. It also helps that Hickman’s characterization of the main character is great. You really get a sense of who Edward Canning is, why he is the way he is, and why he is willing to do whatever it takes to save his wife.

The art is the second big winner here. Bodenheim is really given a chance to stretch his legs in this issue. The dinner party is horrifying in an excellent way and the splash page of the City is simply breathtaking. It begs the reader to just stop and examine the page. The monotone inking also really does do the art a great service. It sets the mood for certain scenes perfectly and gives the book a very interesting look.

The Bad

The biggest killer for this issue is the price. $4.50 is really steep for any book, let alone an unproven title like this one. Yeah, this issue does pack enough story and enough art to make me feel like the price is worth it, but with that said, I also don’t see the casual comic book reader being willing to dish out $4.50 unless they were just super fans of Hickman.

My other really big problem with this issue is the Hickman-isms. Every writer has their own shtick. There are things that they do and common themes throughout almost every work they do, and while that is not necessarily a bad thing, it does over time tend to distract from the writer’s later work. For example, have you every notice that if there is a character that is all white in a Hickman book, then they are probably some omnipotent and super powerful being. Again, i’m not necessarily saying these things are bad, but they do make me feel like we are just retreading over territory we have already been before.

The Verdict

The Dying & The Dead #1 was a really interesting read. Sure, you see some of the same themes and iconography that you have seen in other Hickman stories, but it is still a very good read that sets up what will hopefully be a great story. If only this thing didn’t cost so much…

Story: 4 out of 4
Art: 5 out of 5
Overall: 4.5 out of 5

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