We check out Vault Comics newest horror comic, Deadbox #1, by Mark Russell, Benjamin Tiesma and Vladimir Popov which tells the story of a cursed DVD distribution machine which gives its customers films that know more about their lives than the customer does. Will this be a box office smash or will it turn out to be a flop?
Deadbox is a story set in the small American town of Lost Turkey, where the internet and wifi is a novelty, cinema is a rarity and the only source of entertainment is the Deadbox, a machine which randomly provides films on DVD, at the local convenience store. For Penny, life is in a state of Purgatory for while she wishes to leave this town for College, she is forced to stay and look after her ailing father. However, one night, with nothing else to do, Penny goes to the Deadbox for a film and is provided with a title that has never been heard of before, but may just say more about Penny’s fate than even she realises …
I thought that Deadbox’s first issue was very good read, one that kept me quite engrossed as it progressed. I felt that Mark Russell has produced a story which is deeply entrenched in the idea of small town Americana while also imbuing a very Twilight Zone/Outer Limits sense of creepiness to it. In this sense, Deadbox comes across as a story where the locale of Lost Turkey is like a grown up Eerie Indiana or a more place based interpretation of the comic, Ice Cream Man.
However, if there is one flaw with the writing then it is the narration which occurs throughout the ‘real life’ scenes, with these words coming across as a little highbrow. In truth, it does make me wonder how much of this dialogue is for storytelling purposes and how much is Russell’s own musings on the topic of small towns. Nonetheless, Russell pulls off a captivating concept with a sympathetic lead in Penny as well as leaving the series with questions behind its internal logic which i was on need of answers for.
Meanwhile, I also liked the art for Deadbox as artist Benjamin Tiesma and colorist Vladimir Popov have created a solid look that seems to imbue a picturesque Americana vibe. What’s interesting about their work is how both creators have produced two subtly different styles to depict the ‘real’ and ‘fictional’ worlds in the story. These differing looks seem to come from the colours mostly: Popov’s colour in the real world give a grounded, if optimistic, vibe (although they do underscore more of a horror tone when using darker shades) for example, while the colours in the ‘fictional’ film feel much more out there with a greater use of neon-esque shades.
With Deadbox’s opening instalment, Russell, Tiesma, and Popov deliver a great execution of an intriguing concept. While the introduction is a little confusing and questions are left by the end, this is an issue with solid work throughout which, if followed up in the same manner, will certainly be the start of a series that’ll fly off the shelves.