Death Be Damned #1

by Forrest.H on February 08, 2017


Written by: Ben Acker, Ben Blacker, and Andrew Miller
Art by: Hannah Christenson 
Colors by: Juan Useche
Letters: Colin Bell 
Published by BOOM! Studios

A family dead, a woman who returns from death, and a mysterious figure that guards that deathly realm, perhaps malevolently. Death be Damned #1 is built around a dynamic, near poetic trio that helps to turn this first issue of Boom’s new series into an apt and intriguing, if scattered, offering of western supernatural tableaux.

Awash in a colorful and vibrant palette of art not dissimilar from those murals you see depicting the settlers of the “New World” traveling westward, Death be Damned, it seems, is a tale of revenge. A young woman who transverses both the living and dead worlds, a girl who possesses apparent ability to die and return in duplicity, set down a path of bloody retribution after an early-in-the-issue ground breaking loss of family and love.

It’s compelling stuff, with a supernatural twinge not cast far off from other books in the genre like Sixth Gun or Pretty Deadly, albeit not as refined yet, as those.

There’s an understandable urgency to our heroine’s quest but the book focuses too long on other things and shifts the focus away from her in a strange way for an introductory issue. Time spent on seemingly background characters and/or side characters that would be better served explaining the heroine’s backstory, deepening our bond to her, really getting readers to invest in her even if an interesting dynamic is set up between her and a wayward medical practitioner near the end of the issue. We’re left with a lot of loose ends, then, to follow up on and if the book can hone in on those more effectively, it’ll blossom into something special but here, it’s a bit muddled.

Thankfully, the art is anything but. A stellar combination of Christenson’s lines (a refined or at least simplified-stylized version of the work that Ian Bertram does) and Useche’s colors bring this weird western tale to life. It’s beautiful stuff, well structured, choreographed and fleshed out that I found myself wanting to ruminate on even after the words were done on each page. Between a delightfully split up page featuring a hanged man and a vignette of the main character returning from death split between two pages in a colorful, dreadful splash, it’s the real draw of this issue and I’m eager to see more especially if the supernatural stakes are raised in further issues.

Readers who delight in the Podunk-Western-Revenge tale as well as those who enjoy ghosts, ghoulies and horrible things to surely come will find a lot to like here. Even more so, if this very capable creative time tightens up the focus narratively. 

Our Score:


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