Review – Dead Kings #1 (AfterShock Comics)

Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artwork: Mathew Dow Smith
Colour: Lauren Affe
Letters: Thomas Mauer
Release Date: 24th October 2018

The Kings are dead. Thirty years after the fall of the Kings, Thrice Nine has fallen into degradation, paranoia and poison, becoming a mockery of its former self and a cautionary tale to the rest of the world. The survivors face persecution and an insane draconian rule at the hands of the Oprichniki, Thrice Nine’s secret police. Sasha Vastnetsov managed to escape, leaving his family behind but now he must risk everything and find a way back in to save his brother from incarceration in the most feared “reconstruction” camp of them all, a hell reserved for the worst of what the Oprichniki deem degenerates.

AfterShock promises that this is a story where Russian Folklore meets Bladerunner, however this opening issue brings us a cold, hard world that could easily be Chechnya or any number of ex-Russian states of today. It all feels worryingly familiar.  The poverty, the deprivation, the paranoid and ruthlessly cruel State police keeping a country in thrall through fear, torture and murder. Sadly this is not a fantasy, and the fact that it’s happening now and has been happening across the world for decade after decade and that makes the impact of this story so much more hard-hitting. Dead Kings is dark, gritty and brutally realistic and if this is what Steve Orlando has brought to the first issue I cannot wait to see what he does when the magic and folklore kicks in.

I’ve been impressed with Matthew Dow Smith’s artwork for some time, with his work on Hellboy: The Box of Evil and THE BEAUTY for example being big favourites of mine. Smith makes great use of the massive scope of the countryside to show the enormous scale of the war machines and their decaying corpses at the beginning of this issue as well as bringing the brutality of the aftermath of the wars down to a personal level that really draws you into Orlando’s story. Lauren Affe’s colouring on this issue is stunning as always, bringing the drama and grit of the story and artwork into sharp focus.

I absolutely loved this first issue, I think this has the potential to be very special and just the promise that we’re going to move into Russian folklore married to the strength of the story so far has me very excited for the coming issues

Rating: 4.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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