It’s hard to look at Dead Body Road #1 simply as an introductory issue when it’s obvious that writer Justin Jordan is playing the long game with his bloody tale of vengeance. This first issue offers a clear look at the basic premise that Jordan will be working with as well as a more vague look into the world in which Dead Body Road will proceed. Not satisfied with being a straightforward revenge tale, Dead Body Road #1 is intersected with multiple characters, each of whom carries unknown motivations and varying stories yet to be told. Watching these characters move through the landscape issue by issue and eventually collide is what will ultimately determine where Dead Body Road lands among comics of a similar ilk. There might be plenty of other comics out there with the same set-up, but the execution of Dead Body Road has the make of something special, and it looks absolutely stunning to boot.
From the opening pages, we see that something has happened to Orson Gage’s wife, Anna, but we’re not sure what to make of her bloody body just yet. She could have easily been a victim to circumstance, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or the men that were robbing her building could have been looking for her. No matter, Orson is out for revenge on the men that killed his wife. Despite the obvious correlations to others comics or movies in the same vein, Jordan grounds this first issue more in the reality of a crime investigation. Armed not with an arsenal but with a tip from an old friend on the police force, Orson follows his lead, asks questions, and, at least in this issue, never steps beyond the realm of realism. Other characters present in this issue, like Lake and Quint, two of the culprits in Anna’s murder, have a certain air of movie villainy to them, but this is a comic book after all. Fletcher Cobb is the total wild card in this issue, offering what could be a more heinous antagonist, but from what we see of him, he might be more on Orson’s side of the fence.
Gritty realism is what Jordan is shooting for, and in that respect, Matteo Scalera’s art is perfectly paired with this title. This is my first taste of Scalera’s work–which also appears in Image Comics’ other recent release, Black Science–and I already want more. His pencils scratch the images on each page, establishing a real sense of tone for Dead Body Road. This is one harsh looking comic, and considering the reputation of Justin Jordan to get grizzly (see: the Luthor Strode series), I can’t wait to see Scalera draw some gnarly-looking panels in future issues. Moreno Dinisio’s colors further compliment Scalera’s art when needed, but the use of shadow is predominant throughout, particularly in Cobb’s torture sequence. That doesn’t make it any less unsettling, and if it’s an indicator as to the direction Dead Body Road will take, you’ll want to follow this title for the long haul.
GNN Comics Grade: VERY GOOD (7.5/10)