• Death Head #5



    Death Head #5
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: December 16th, 2015.
    Written by: Zack Keller, Nick Keller
    Illustrated by: Joanna Estep
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    Picking up where the first four issues left off, this issue starts off with a fairly striking opening page in which Bee’s nose is bleeding, he can’t get it to stop. Maggie and Justine look on, trying to comfort him, but he’s upset. The sidewalk turns into the edge of a cliff and the masked ‘thing’ that has been haunting the family manifests, calling Bee to it. Birds appear, it rains blood and Bee is, quite understandably, terrified. This thing is calling him to his death.

    When that stops as suddenly as it began, Maggie calls Justine out – she and their dad have been acting odd ever since they got back from that trip, that same trip where they first found the mask to begin with. Justine tells her kids that she thinks something followed them back. Meanwhile, underground in the park where all of this started, Niles and his cop pal are searching for an ‘ancient killer.’ The sheriff tiles Niles what happened to his son, how it ties into what he’s dealing with and the town’s history. They’re looking for anything they can find to try and set this right, and then they see ‘the doctor’ at his operating table – except there’s more than one. There’s a lot of them.

    The further into the caves they go, the more they find the weirder it gets. Meanwhile, Bee gets a visit from Rosie, a warning of sorts.

    The groundwork that was laid in the first three issues really started to come to a boil in the fourth chapter and those events have spilled over quite nicely into this fifth entry in the series. The events that took place at that part way back in issue one now make sense, we realize what has been haunting Niles and his family… and now we’re starting to understand why. Of course, it all ties into the mask, we knew that much even then, but now we’re learning about the deadly secrets that have plagued the town for years, the kind that aren’t spoken about in certain company. Zack and Nick Keller are really running with it, their story is getting complex but not overdone, the different characters are getting fleshed out nicely and the different threads of the earlier issues are now tying together in interesting and unexpected ways.

    Joanna Estep’s art is solid, complemented nicely by Kelly Fitzpatrick’s coloring work, especially in the opening scene where the creature manifests and calls to Bee. Here you can see the influence of artists like P. Craig Russell and Michael Kaluta, but Estep’s definitely got her own style going on. Lots of nice detail here and some really interesting panel layouts make this a pretty attractive looking book. All of this rests nicely under a beautifully macabre cover painting from E.M. Gist.