EMPIRE of the DEAD / DEADLY CLASS / DEAD BODY ROAD [Reviews]: …On Arrival

Oh my brother and sisters, allow your faithful Padre to testify. Pop open a can of whatever unholy brew gets you through the night, sit back, relax, and read my good — and quite deathly — words on this week’s gifts from the almighty comic book gods. Our theme this morning, quite obviously, is Death. But Death (and her sexy ass self) can be sorta kinda awesome to be around, especially when it comes to this week’s particular Fistful of Comics.


I have to start things off with both a thank you and an apology to the good Monsignor Moody. You see, I am an avid Rick Remender (Black Science, Fear Agent) fan, as is He, but I balked at reviewing this comic because I wasn’t feeling the premise and the preview didn’t grab me. After much cajoling on his part, I gave in and picked up the book. Having just read it, I can only guess at what in the blue fucking hell was wrong with me beforehand. It is rare that you find a single comic both this personal and this much fun. The passion is evident in the writing as the story unfolds. There is so much heart spread out among the intrigue in this debut issue that I feel perfectly comfortable declaring this the best thing Remender has ever written. He does a great job of making the book feel of 1987. The tempo, the bits of real world history referenced, and the sense of despair felt by youths growing up in the Yuppie controlled Me-Generation last days of the Cold War.

“Smokin’ in The Boys room.”

With contemplative, sharp, and realistic dialogue, the flow of the narrative gets us right into the mind and heart of our lead character. This is a debut that feels less like setup and more like a headfirst stage dive into a brand new, yet familiar world. There is action, a mystery, a mysterious school and skate crews, punk rock, and the Day of the Dead, ass kicking teen outcasts and a tragic death that puts the killing of the Waynes to shame. Wes Craig’s (Legends of the Dark Knight) artwork is superb. There is a mix of cartoon realism about it. There is real movement to his storytelling. There are some experimental panels that really enhance some of the deeper moments in the book and a kinetic energy to the action scenes that make them pop off the page.

Maybe my own experience of awkward alienation as a black metal head growing up and attending Catholic high school in Harlem at the time this story takes place.. is coloring my perspective. Maybe this book is just that fucking awesome that it really doesn’t matter.

5 (out of 5) Bibles = Early candidate for Book of the Year.










Beware of Ketchup-Head.

Vampires and Zombies. That’s what one of the best artists in comics today and the master of the Zombie movie genre deliver in this new book from Marvel. There is a nice tie-in to the original Night of the Living Dead film, and an intriguing twist with the still sentient living dead S.W.A.T. member, Xavier, and a red eyepatch-wearing vampire sporting a red cape with a thirst for the blood of pretty girls. And who doesn’t love a good zombie gladiatorial brawl? George A. Romero (Everything of the Dead) sprinkles some hokey cheese throughout Empire that is related to the underlying theme of taming zombie aggression. To accentuate the argument of auto remembered behavior vs. true intelligence in the zombies, we have scenes of a “stinker” (as they are sometimes called in the comic) hanging laundry, and two of the dead playing chess in a park.

While interesting, the presentation came across a bit forced and corny. That aside, Alex Maleev’s (Spider-Woman) art in this issue is flat out fantastic. The book is at times moody, dark and somber. Certain scenes, through the use of heavy blacks and muted tones, really highlight the terrifyingly claustrophobic feel of the dead city of New York. It is a beautiful book to look at in a similar fashion to Snyder and Murphy’s The Wake.

As for the overall story and Romero’s writing, the pacing is good and the dialogue comes off as natural. The Padre’s problem with the comic, then, is that this story feels like an offshoot of some of his recent of the Dead films, complete with cardboard characters and predictable plot. It isn’t a bad comic by any stretch; it’s just a mostly boring one until its undeadly last quarter.

2.5 Bibles.









Breakfasting Bad.

I’m guessing a lot of reviews will talk about how this is a great action movie in comic form. Let’s shoot that bag of bullshit down right now. This is a great action comic, period. The first page of Issue 2 picks up where we last left off, with main character Orson tidying up after the events that capped off that first chapter in this story of murder, theft, and revenge. From there we jump straight back into full-on action as we are introduced to Rachel, see her meet Orson, and witness two more bad guys who get introduced to a big old can of whupass. The violence is elegant here, with some of the best fight scenes this side of a Sam Peckinpah film.

Wait, I just did the movie thing.

Anyway, Matteo Scalera, the new hardest working man in comics, who is already killing it monthly on Black Science, turns in another stellar showing — going rougher, for the dirty desert setting.

Justin Jordan (The Legend of Luther Strode) continues to craft a fast paced story. His Dead Body Road is a page turner of a comic, a high adrenaline thrill-ride that starts slow, runs hot and ends high, wetting the appetite for more. Like a damn good comic book should, it leaves you breathlessly waiting for next month to hurry the hell up and get here already.

4 (out of 5) Shotgun Revenge Bibles.









  • EGOs #1 – Stepping back from the new releases for a minute and taking the time machine all the way back to last week, I wanted to make sure Image’s EGOs from last week wasn’t overlooked. Take a little bit of Abnett and Lannings late Boom series The Hypernaturals, mix in some hard sci-fi elements, a dash of the Legion Lost, bong hits, superheroics, and marital drama, and you get Stuart Moore (Wolverine Noir, The 99) and Storms’ debut issue of EGOs. It is a fun trip into the future of super science and dimension hopping. Moore has written an engaging and witty intro into this new world. Artist Gus Storms does an excellent job with his layouts and pacing. He has a simple, scratchy style reminiscent of Nick Pitarra’s work on The Manhattan Projects. For his first comic book work, not too shabby at all. I wasn’t sure what to expect with EGOs, and while there is definitely room for it to stretch further beyond its influences, consider me hooked. It is a solid start that looks to only expand upon the ambitions hinted at in this first peek into a cool fantasy future. 3.25/5.

The future is indeed.. a Moody one.

  • Zero #5 – Following the unrelenting brutality of the fight between Zero and Carlyle from last issue, the title character in this futuristic spy-fi tale is bruised, bloodied, and spends issue 5 mostly in the company of his handler Zizek. This issue continues the experiment of having every issue drawn by a different artist. If you haven’t picked up the series yet, that notion may seem jarring. But while there is an underlying thread throughout Zero’s tale, each issue is set up to be a free standing piece. A quieter issue, but no less revealing, things begin in 2038 where things began in issue 1. Will Tempest’s style serves as the perfect complement to the quiet feel of this issue, also drawing one damn creepy gaping eyehole. Jordie Bellaire’s use of a soft palette of blues, grays, brown, green, and all the other colors of the Banana Republic fashion spectrum, are an inspired choice. As for the story, while Ales Kot (Wild Children) lets the reader breathe a little bit, Zero is put through a series of mental tests and stressful questioning to determine if he is still a viable asset to the Agency. The issue ends on a perfectly Fringe-like moment, as the series will see its first trade collection next month before #6 drops in March. 3.5/5.

Guy Copes III
A New York City native, Guy D. Copes III is a writer and artist of "limited" success to-date (to each and their own, kiddies) with really B.I.G. things in the future. He made the cross country trek to the land of make believe and honey -- you know better as Los Angeles -- leading to documentary production, plenty of art shows, and multiple blogs. Our Padre is currently at work on two indie comic projects, as a member of Angry Artists Studio. I ain't mad. Follow @GuyCopes3