An advance review of Greg Pak's new series from Aspen!
Credits & Solicit Info:
From acclaimed "Hulk" writer Greg Pak, legendary "Walking Dead" producer Gale Anne Hurd, and Tony Parker, artist of the Eisner-nominated "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", comes the biggest blockbuster series of the new year - DEAD MAN'S RUN!
Hell is a prison from which none escape. That's not a metaphor. It's a concrete reality surrounded by razor wire and gun towers in the middle of the California desert. But today, a young cartographer named Sam Tinker begins an epic battle against the mysterious Warden and all the horrors of her domain, in a desperate attempt to rescue his sister Juniper--the only innocent in Hell!
Get ready for an insane supernatural action-packed thriller, as Aspen Comics proudly presents its newest hit series, DEAD MAN'S RUN!
One of the first thoughts I had reading this issue was: "This would make an okay t.v. show," maybe a mini-series on Syfy or something like that. I suppose that's not surprising, given the involvement of Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Entertainment (a movie production company, partnered with Aspen for this book.) So is this a pitch for such a t.v. show or movie? It certainly could be.
Dead Man's Run takes place at a prison in California that is actually Hell- guards are demons, the condemned are punished and so on, though it's not entirely clear if you really have to die first to get sentenced there. After opening with an intriguing death scene, we meet Sam and his sister Juniper, who is determined to keep Sam away from his job at the prison. Suffice to say that doesn't work, and Sam ends up inside. This is all part of someone's plan because Sam is a cartographer, which means he can get around in this place after seeing very little of it. The basic plot is that Sam is going to escape, and find his sister. Other prisoners may have other ideas, as may the warden. The actual set-up isn't entirely clear.
As an extended story this series could turn out okay, but as a first issue too many balls are thrown in the air and too few land. There isn't enough payoff in relation to what's started; it's not a satisfying single issue read, especially as a first exposure to the series. (There's also a #0 issue I haven't read that might help in that respect, but a #1 should still carry its own weight.) I might read this if it's collected later, but that's the catch-22 right there; if I'm not invested in the issues there may not be a collection. (So stick the landing on #1, ok?)
The art may be part of the problem. It's not bad and does a good job on the basic storytelling, but it does have enough unclear panels and bad perspectives to make some of the plot elements unclear. Things appear suddenly - this is a prison, remember, so access to random items should be limited - and action jumps from panel to panel in places. The art also fails to establish the world; the basic story and characters are fine, but there's no sense of the place where this story is set.
Bottom Line- If this is supposed to be a movie or tv show, watch that. What's in the first issue isn't enough to stand out from the crowd.
Review by: BD Montgomery, Outhouse Contributor