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Royal Reviews: Near Death #1

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Tuesday, September 20 2011 and posted in Reviews

A thrilling new comic debuts at Image Comics!

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Near Death #1

Story by:  Jay Faerber
Art By:  Simone Guglielmini
Cover By:  Tomm Coker

Diamond ID:JUL110404
On Sale:September 21, 2011
Series:Near Death

Markham is a professional killer who has a near death experience during a botched mission. Determined to avoid ever returning to the Hell he glimpsed, Markham dedicates himself to balancing the scales. He's going to save a life for every life he's taken. And he's taken a lot of lives... A new ongoing crime series for fans of Criminal and the novels of Lee Child and Robert Crais.


Near Death #1 starts off with protagonist Markham bruised and battered, fading away fast due to blood loss stemming from a fatal gunshot wound.  He's barely able to get to his veterinarian friend's operating table before he dies. 

Markham is a pretty familiar character.  He's the classic tough-guy archetype; rumpled clothing, five o'clock shadow, and hard-boiled narration.  He's a cold-blooded killer who really isn't changed by a near-death experience.

Except dying has changed everything.  While flatlining on the operating table he sees a vision of all the people he's killed, and it causes him to rethink his life.  Sure he's going to keep killing, but it'll only be in furtherance of saving the lives of other people.

Despite the "been there done that" nature of the plot and characters, there's still something pretty engaging about the fast-driving plot of Near Death #1.  Rendered by Simone Guglielmini in shadowy, gritty lines and utilizing great establishing shots that set the pacing of the comic, Jay Faerber's story synthesizes a lot of different crime story influences and uses them well.  The story moves forward at a good clip and although there's nothing groundbreaking, it is all well-executed.  Although this is a plot-heavy comic, rather than a character piece, the relationship between Markham and his similarly single-named veterinarian friend Sutton is pretty well established and feels genuine.  It's clear that they're old friends who don't have many secrets from each other, and it was nice seeing that kind of relationship so effortlessly depicted. 

What Near Death #1 really has going for it is that establied its setting and tone early and can therefore spend a lot of time on its plot.  Since this is a pretty standard crime thriler, it needs get going early.  Thus we get to see not only how Markham gets his epiphany, but how he plans to take action, and what larger implications his new life direction will take him in.  The issue covers a lot of ground and works really well within the confines it set up for itself.  Near Death #1 isn't revolutionary, but it is good comfort food for crime story fans.

Review by: Royal Nonesuch

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