Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artwork: Mathew Dow Smith
Colour: Lauren Affe
Letters: Thomas Mauer
Release Date: 12th December 2018
Sasha’s quest to save his brother from the dreaded internment camp, Sochi, looks like it’s over before it’s begun. He has failed to recruit Stone Mary, former Steel Polianitsi, he has been captured by the Oprichniki and to make matters worse, he’s not being taken to Sochi. Will an unexpected intervention get him back on track?
Dead Kings continues to be a phenomenal story with a dystopian heart that, for me, conjures memories of reading Children of Men, 1984 and The Handmaids Tale for the first time. The thing I love about a well crafted dystopia is that no-one is safe and there is not always a happy ending. You can take nothing for granted and the tension is always heightened as a result.
Writer Steve Orlando is producing a dystopian vision which ticks all the boxes for me. It’s dark and gritty and the main characters have a level of depth which is hard to achieve in such a short period of time. Sasha desperately wants to present the image of a hard, confident man but his self doubt shows through, giving him away at every turn, whereas Maria’s outward appearance as a tough and deadly warrior with no regrets belies a soul searching for justice and redemption.
Matthew Dow Smith’s artwork is great once again, and I particularly liked the way the machines in Maria’s flashbacks were more like something you’d see in a 1950’s Sci-fi movie than, for example, the sleek and refined anti-grav Mech-Mares that the Oprichniki use on their patrols. I think the temptation to go Steampunk on this series must have been quite hard to resist and I’m glad to see that Smith managed to produce something that really backs up the story and amplifies the feeling of a world slowly dying and not doing much to try and revive itself.
Lauren Affe’s colouring once again just crowns the whole thing with depth and contrast and a great use of highlights throughout. At the risk of labouring the point about Maria’s flashbacks, the antique feel to the images works really well with the use sepia tones, almost intimating a fond reminiscence for the days of war. By contrast, Sacha’s flashbacks are depicted with a much harsher, colder palette which matches perfectly with the feelings of regret and shame he has for his actions – or rather, his lack of actions.
I thought the first issue was brilliant and I think this second issue is continuing to build on what could be an epic story that will continue to surprise.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek