Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writers: Ben Acker & Ben Blacker, Andrew Miller
Artist: Hannah Christenson
Release Date: 8th February 2017
Miranda Coler wakes up in a creek near her home to find her husband and daughter murdered by outlaws. She inexplicably seems to have survived the raid, and – after taking a moment to bury her loved ones – heads into town with a burning thirst for vengeance on her mind. So far so Western, right? But see, rather than trotting out the same old tired, clichéd Western story, the writing trio of Ben Acker, Ben Blacker and Andrew Miller throw a fascinating wrinkle into this new series – albeit a wrinkle that doesn’t fully manifest itself until the latter stages of this opening chapter.
The first issue concerns itself primarily with introducing us to both our leading lady and Joseph Murray, a local undertaker whose dabblings into the realm of the afterlife may end up playing a significant role in Miranda’s quest for vengeance. It’s a solid and steadily paced opening, and the dialogue feels authentic and flows smoothly throughout. We don’t really learn much about Miranda other than the reality of her current situation, however, and with the exception of the ‘twist’, this first issue is more than a little derivative – almost intentionally so at times. That said, there’s still a lot of intriguing factors at play here, and the potential is definitely there as the more supernatural aspects of the series gradually reveal themselves.
It might be a slight exaggeration to say that Hannah Christenson’s artwork drags the series down, but it definitely hinders the storyline at times with its flat, uneven quality. It also doesn’t help that the faces of the characters are so incredibly rough at times, leading to some truly confusing and frequently unidentifiable expressions. The layouts are smooth and Juan Useche does a solid job with the colours, plus Christenson knocks it out of the park with the supernaturally charged double page spread in the latter portion of the issue, it’s just that the faces of the characters – and the level of detail in general – really prevents the story from hitting the mark like it potentially should.
Ultimately then, while it’s an interesting enough premise, there just isn’t enough meat on the storyline bones yet to make this a truly satisfying read. That and the uneven and untidy nature of some of the artwork makes Death be Damned a difficult title to fully recommend, although there’s some real potential here that will, hopefully, be tapped into as the series continues. One to keep an eye on for sure, but perhaps not one to get too excited about just yet.
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