Jonathan Hickman is one of comics’ hottest creators thanks to this work on Marvel’s Fantastic Four and Avengers, plus his creator-owned titles like Manhattan Projects and East is West. Now, with artist Ryan Bodenheim, Hickman brings us another mind-boggling news series, The Dying and the Dead #1, but will this be yet another fantastic story by comics foremost master-planner, or will it leave his fans disconnected?
The Dying and the Dead #1 starts with a massacre at a wedding, where a hidden artifact is acquired from the groom for the mysterious ‘Bah Al’Sharur’, and the secrets of the world (which were hidden from knowledge) threaten to come to light. With different factions beginning to appear to acquire this item, our seemingly lead character the Colonel, a man who close to losing that which he loves the most, is offered a deal by a mysterious people whom he has encountered before for a simple exchange; retrieve the item taken in exchange for saving his dying wife.
Jonathan Hickman is well known for building a great story with layers upon layers of information, as has been shown in many of his works; from Secret Warriors and Avengers to The Manhattan Projects and he appears to have achieved the same once again with an incredibly engaging first issue. The plot is indeed mysterious and doesn’t give the reader very much to go on in regards to anticipating what the overall plot is. However, while this might be a turn off to readers for other books, the events which occur and the characters you encounter throughout this issue are so intriguing that you cannot help but be hooked. This bumper-sized double issue gives you as much information as you need to stay invested, while keeping more than enough secrets hidden to make this a compelling read.
Although Hickman’s writing will warrant such of the praise for this series, the artwork is equally noteworthy. Hickman’s work always manages to attract interesting artists, and with The Dying and the Dead #1, artist Ryan Bodenheim seems to have been heaven sent as he draws with an ethereal, twisted style which really suits this book and it’s very morbid, death related story. This is further amplified by Michael Garland’s colours, which are perfectly washed to make anything in the story even closely related to death stand out against the some of the more vibrant backgrounds. Between these two, the people that the Colonel makes a deal with could not look any more chilling even if another team had tried.