Dead Body Road opens with a bank heist gone wrong(ish). "Tech guy” is computer-stealing some stuff, and everything is going great until he peeks his head out front and sees his crew standing over dead bodies. He hustles out the back and we cut to dead security guard's(?) husband apologizing to crime scene photos of his dead wife.
And then comes 21 pages of clichés and a decent car chase.
Have you ever seen an action movie? Or a revenge movie? Taken, Die Hard, Edge of Darkness, Death Wish, half of Steven Seagal’s flicks, Man on Fire? Have you ever read the work of Charlie Huston, Duane Swierczynski, Rick Remender, Victor Gischler, Warren Ellis or Ed Brubaker?
Then you have seen the guts of Dead Body Road many times before. Grieving husband gets help from reluctant cop friend, cop friend says dead wife wouldn’t approve of vengeance, guy squints down barrel of gun while cocking it, guy who says “fuck” a lot, car chase, dialogue like “Had better days Quint” from guy in wrecked car and “It was supposed to be simple. Pull a bank job” from guy getting horribly tortured. Even the character design comes from central casting, muscle guy with tattoos and a mowhawk, douchey leader asshole in shades and loud suit, torturer guy has a fucked up face, hero guy wears a classy suit coat of vengeance.
I’ve seen it all before, sometimes done worse, but, unfortunately for writer Justin Jordan, a lot of times done better. Jordan provides no new or interesting characters, twists or moments in this issue, it is an assemblage of everything you would expect upon hearing the books solicitation blurb:
The men involved in his wife’s death must die. All of them.
Maybe six issues down the line there’s some crazy twist or the book turns into a meta/self-referential/homage thing but after reading issue one I have little to no incentive to get there.
Artist Matteo Scalera does some worthwhile stuff at least. Like frequent Jordan collaborator Tradd Moore he can handle action well. It’s not easy to pull off a decent car chase in comics but this one has a nice cinematic feel. Most of the images are, again, action movie standard; hero emerges from cloud of dust with shotgun, cop friend leans in doorway, one-handed shotgun blast. They have some dynamism though, like people interacting with each other and an environment as opposed to just Jim Lee-style posing.
But it’s not enough to save the book. Dead Body Road remains a series of well-drawn cliché’s.