• Death Head #1



    Death Head #1
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: July 15th, 2015.
    Written by: Zack Keller, Nick Keller
    Illustrated by: Joanna Estep
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    This new mini-series from Dark Horse Comics, written by Zack and Nick Keller and illustrated by Joanna Estep, introduces us to Justine and her husband Niles. They’re out in Shadowcliff National Park on the hunt for Death’s-head Moths, it’s a bit of a break from the kids they’ve left back at home and a chance for them to enjoy each other’s company before she gives birth again in a few months.

    While they’re out exploring they come across the remnants of an old town that isn’t shown on their map. At first they figure it’s a reenactment town, setup by the park for visitors to experience what it was like living in years past but once they start poking around, they start to wonder if the town isn’t still in use somehow. They find what looks like a ceremonial dagger in the church and can’t help but notice the distinct lack of dust – and then they find out where all those moths they were looking for have been hiding… and then Niles falls down a trap door.

    Cut to a woman named Lena posing provocatively – she and a few friends are goofing around, they’re schoolgirls at a Catholic school and hiding out from Sister Mandalay. They’re bust and one of the girls, Maggie, goes to confession and is told to do one hundred Hail Mary’s to atone for her sins. When she’s left alone in the sanctuary she confesses to Christ on the crucifix that she’s in love with Lena.

    Cut again to a woodsy area where a young boy named Bee is standing in front of an entrance to a sewer, confronted by a few bullies. They send him in and tell him an urban legend about someone or something that lures kids in there and snaps their necks.

    Back at the ‘abandoned’ town, Justine goes down after Niles only for the two to realize that they’re actually in a crematorium…

    We’re off to a pretty creepy start here, with most of the spookiness coming from what happens to Niles and Justine – their exploration of the town is interesting and without going into spoiler territory, the last few pages hint at some very bad things to come. The dialogue between our married couple works well, there’s some humor in here that fits without ever feeling jammed into the story and they feel like believable characters at this point. How their story will tie in with that of Bee and Maggie remains to be seen, but Bee’s portion at least seems to fit in that the urban legend obviously connects to a certain character that appears later in the book. There’s good mystery here and some genuinely creepy stuff going on.

    Joanna Estep’s artwork is solid and Kelly Fitzpatrick’s coloring work is just as strong. Together they’ve managed to create a shadowy world that’s detailed enough to draw us in and which has an interesting fluidity to it. Panel layout is fairly conventional here but the way that the artwork is contained within those panels is pretty cool and the sequence where the moths are discovered does a great job of, for lack of a better cliché to use here, flying off of the page.

    We’re off to a good start here, this first issue doing a fine job of pulling us into the storyline and ending on such a way that we definitely want to know where it goes from here. Which is, after all, the point of a first issue. So yeah, mission accomplished. Bring on the next chapter.