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April 8, 2012
 

Aspen Reviews: Dead Man’s Run #1 & 2

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Written by: Billy
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Dead Man’s Run #1
Publisher: Aspen Comics
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Tony Parker
Colorist: David Curiel

I’m sure prison isn’t a nice place even to visit, let alone be incarcerated there, but imagine being  in a prison in hell. Yes, that’s right, a young man named Sam and his sister Juniper have just been in a big car wreck, and well, they’re in the bad place. He might belong there, but she doesn’t (according to Sam). From the mind of Greg Pak (World War Hulk, Hercules), and with Tony Parker (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) on art duties, we are given Dead Man’s Run! A tale of a hellish prison that houses all the worst criminals that have died over the years. Also, people like Sam and Juniper who are not hardened criminals, but ended up there anyway.

Pak is a writer that I was introduced to with Incredible Hercules. This title is written just as well, with surprising ingenuity. Superhero comics are seemingly easier to write for a number of reasons, and especially a character that has been around for decades with tons of friends, villains, and adventures. A story like this requires the writer and then the artist to do everything from the ground up. A true test of a writer is his work on self-created pieces. There are a lot of big names with books out right now that are creator owned (Bendis, Brubaker, Millar), and I’m sure there are winners and losers. Let’s face it, you can’t have a winner every time, but this book seems to have a great concept, characters, and an unlimited resource for future issues. That resource? Greg Pak’s mind.

Parker did a solid job with this book. His panel where Sam gets dragged down to the cell area by the guards/demons was creepy as heck, and it was just impressive. All throughout the pages are smooth lines with believable scenery. It’s difficult to imagine what hell or a prison in hell would look like, but Parker’s representation is more than adequate. He seems to understand perfectly what Pak is trying to relay to the reader. I’m more than intrigued by the start of this series, and hope it does nothing but ascend form here! Rating 4/5

Dead Man’s Run #2
Publisher: Aspen
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Tony Parker
Colorist: David Curiel

In this next installment of the series, we are introduced to a few more of the inmates, and let me tell you, they’re not your typical prisoners. One of the men has been here for five hundred years! Talk about a long sentence, huh? In any case, Sam is determined to get out of his cell and past the guards, and the undesirables that inhabit this filthy place, but one of them in particular, Morazzi, has a keen interest in young Sam. The two wind up fighting, but Sam then shows Morazzi that he’s not going down easy. Sam impresses him with his photographic memory when he draws a map showing how to get out of the prison. Sam is a cartographer, and saw a map in the warden’s office when he was being told of his fate. This is enough for Morazzi to help Sam try to find his sister and escape this hellish prison!

This issue read much like the first, but also provided some more clues as to where this story might be headed. Sam meets up with his former boss, as well, and that was completely unexpected. Pak is doing a fine job, but I hope we get more back story on the characters, and even the circumstances regarding the prison itself.

From an artistic point of view, I enjoyed this issue even more than the first. The reason being that this one showed a blood-thirsty crocodile on a rampage! That’s right, even in the afterlife animals are still to be feared! The only thing missing from that segment of the book was a surprise guest appearance by Steve Irwin (RIP). Seriously though, those couple of pages really made the book for me for a couple of reasons. First, it was totally unexpected, and secondly, the panel where the croc ripped some dude in half was just insane! When something completely catches me unaware, it has two possibilities. Either it’s a big bang or an even bigger thud. This was most certainly a big bang.

Again, if you’re even contemplating buying this series or just adding something to your pull list, definitely give this book a try. Pak has a great track record, and Parker is really a good choice for this title. So go ahead, give this and any other Aspen book a whirl, because they are pumping out some very cool books right now! Rating 4/5

Billy Dunleavy
billy@comicattack.net

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