Review – Dead Body Road: Bad Blood #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Benjamin Tiesma
Colours: Mat Lopes
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Release Date: 24th June 2020

I’ll admit that the first run of Dead Body Road passed me by, so when given the opportunity to look at this new release, I made the mistake of looking up the blurb. I say mistake because, in finding out that this wasn’t a ‘fresh’ new thing, I started to second guess a lot of things during my read. I suppose it may be a little odd to open my review with that kind of info, but the main reason is that little nagging doubt that I might be missing something will no doubt have coloured my impressions of this issue, so I wanted to make sure I was being upfront.

On the face of it, this new series should be good. I was a big fan of Justin Jordan’s writing on Backways so was keen to see how they tackled something even darker. On top of expectations of solid writing, Pat Brosseau has made me really appreciate the letters, so I was pretty confident that, if nothing else, this should be an enjoyable read.

Opening with a brutal beat down, we have the promise of violent action, mystery, and a bit of grown-up criminal thrills and spills The framing clearly suggests that this isn’t the ‘forgivable vigilante’ kind but the ‘bad guy looking for info’ sort of beating. Intent on gaining word on someone called Hale, an individual is dispatched to have ‘words’ with his sister. And with these three pages I found myself instantly lured into this world. It’s presented like it should be familiar, and there is a little unease as a newcomer as to whether this is truly the case. I’m not saying I felt like there were gaping holes in the plot; indeed, it heightened the tension for me to think there might be more depth to explore.

From here we wind our way to the presumed protagonist of the story, Bree. There’s an element of cliché here with the well-built, tattooed, blonde bartender who clearly knows how to handle the crowd in this biker bar. Having drank in some pretty rough establishments in my time though, I wouldn’t mess with the bar staff either. Starting out as pretty much any other night, there’s not so much a snowballing of bad luck, as there is an avalanche of calamity ending with death and destruction.

All of this is more than competently on display in Benjamin Tiesma and Mat Lopes’ artwork. The characterisation is great and there’s some really strong moody vibes. Whether it’s the menace that oozes from the simple action of rolling up sleeves, to the full-on biting and gouging of desperate combat, we never lose the definition during these set pieces. The overall look feels a tight fit for the story, and I was correct in my assumptions I’d be in for an enjoyable read.

If I were being overly critical, I’d have to say that there might not be a specific hook or something decidedly new in this first issue. Sure, we have a strong, captivating, female lead which makes a pleasant change from the stereotypical grizzled male, and this looks more Appalachian than Western, but it feels like a traditional ‘vengeance’ tale. There are some big plus points in the writing and visuals, and with scope to lead a blazing trail of bloody violence, let me get onboard!

Rating: 3.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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