Advance Review – Dead Seas #1 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Cavan Scott
Artwork: Nick Brokenshire
Lettering: Shawn Lee
Release Date: 21st December 2022

Three years ago, ghosts started appearing all over the world for no apparent reason.  Fast-forward to the present day, where mankind has realised that the ectoplasm left behind is actually an incredibly valuable drug, capable of curing a wide variety of diseases. The only problem is the dangerous process of harvesting the supernatural goo.

In Dead Seas, on sale next month from IDW Publishing as part of their new ‘IDW Original’ creator-owned imprint, humanity has decided to solve this particular problem by using convicted felons to harvest the ectoplasm in return for a reduced sentence. Our protagonist, Gus Ortiz, is part of the latest intake of prisoners who find themselves helicoptered onto to the floating prison camp Perdition and set to work.  However, as you might expect, things almost immediately go to hell, trapping Gus on board with some of the most vicious ghosts on the planet.

Okay, so this is a undeniably fun idea, and while there probably isn’t too much in the way of nuance or subtlety being thrown into the mix here, that definitely doesn’t diminish the enjoyment factor.  Series writer Cavan Scott has an impressive track record for writing thoroughly enjoyable stories, and he does a great job of setting the scene and establishing the status quo for this new series without slowing things down too much with mind-numbing exposition.

I’ve been a big fan of Nick Brokenshire’s work for quite some time now (us Scots need to stick together, after all), so it’s great to see him working on a brand new creator-owned series here.  He brings his distinctive artistic style to the story, utilising a fairly measured approach for the most part before really cutting loose every time one of the aforementioned ghosts appears on the page.  The characters, while rudimentary at times, do a solid job of carrying the emotional beats of the story, and the colours – also provided by Brokenshire – really help to bring the supernatural moments of the story to life.

One minor niggle is that Ortiz is a fairly generic protagonist for the time being in the ‘Gerard Butler everyman action hero’ mould, but he still has plenty of room to evolve throughout the course of the series. The final pages also throw an added wrinkle into the proceedings which, while intriguing, perhaps feels a bit like overkill at the moment given the fact that there’s already so much going on.

While it’s certainly using a lot of established tropes, there are more than enough fun ideas and snappy artwork here to make this a comic that’s well worth a look. IDW are churning out a ton of top quality creator-owned books, and Dead Seas has the potential to be right near the top of that list as it progresses.

Rating: 3.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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