There’s a Justin Jordan book and then there’s a book written by Justin Jordan. The difference is that one has his distinct style and voice while the other is similar it just never gets to that point that it makes your head spin. There is just something very unique about a series that is all his own and though I enjoy his mainstream work, there is always part of the story that feels as if Jordan is chomping at the bit just waiting to let go and blow our minds. The Luther Strode series has blown my mind. I’m not even sure what genre you could put it in or if you should categorize it. Its action, its horror, but it’s also a character piece. He redefined violence in comic books with the help of collaborator Tradd Moore. With Dead Body Road he’s teamed up with Matteo Scalera to redefine the revenge genre and with only one issue accomplished that goal. Usually with a revenge story you’re given an elaborate opening that really takes most of the story to explain the motivation of the characters. There are a few stories that cut to the chase, but not many. Dead Body Road jumps right in. We start off with a heist that’s gone wrong, but rather than show it going down we just see the consequences… a lot of dead people and one dead cop. The character we’re following in the beginning freaks out and bails on the job before the men he’s working with can add him to the pile.
From there we meet the dead cop’s husband Orson as a friend from the force, Yab, is paying him a visit. Yab’s been put on the case and rather than block Orson from the investigation he helps him. Hold up! A friend and fellow officer that’s actually helping; I know it’s all but unheard of in stories like this and yet it’s a believable outcome. Yab isn’t exactly grabbing a shotgun and heading down the path of no return, but he gives him the only lead he has on the case (before he’s likely pulled anyways) and let’s Orson continue on his own. From there the book only gets better with tons of action and a car chase scene that is one of the first I’ve seen work in a comic book.
Jordan doesn’t just redefine the revenge genre he’s mapping out a blueprint for all those who would follow. You don’t need three issues of set up to so that we feel the pain of lose and believe that this man would go and hunt down his loved one’s murderers. His wife was killed and he’s going to find the assholes that did it and make them pay? Yeah I believe it. We’re programed as humans to want to protect our loved ones and when we can’t and it’s out of our control, then revenge becomes a viable option. You don’t need to show me how in love there were before they were ripped from each other’s embrace and so Jordan doesn’t. He delivers a great story and while I’m only mentioning the revenge aspect of it, there is a larger tale going on that Orson is getting involved in and that’s what saves it from being just another dude on a rampage. The mystery is the hook and Jordan has me snared.
I feel like I’ve seen a lot of Matteo Scalera’s art before, but never quite like this. His work here is something else. The line work is reminiscent of Tradd Moore, but the details and nuances of the panel setups are all Scalera’s. There is an intentional grittiness to the line and ink work that screams action and gun play. The coloring is very vibrant and yet intentionally muted as well to play into the darkness of the story. Scalera’s action scenes are intense and again, unlike anything you normally find in the medium. There’s also a fair amount of gun play and violence in this issue and Scalera keeps it from being gory and more action movie orientated. I don’t know how long this series is, but I do know that Jordan has found another strong artistic partner in Scalera.
You can’t get this book yet which I know you’re probably hating me for right now, but hopefully you’re interested. Hell I’m interested in reading it again just from talking about it. There’s only one other thing that Dead Body Road has in common with the Luther Strode series (other than the writer/creator) and that’s its impact. There is no doubt in my mind that this series/issue is going to hit people like a ton of bricks. If you have friends that refuse to read comics, convince them to buy this issue and they’ll see why the medium is so entertaining and full of endless possibilities.
Writer: Justin Jordan Artist: Matteo Scalera Publisher: Image/Skybound Entertainment Price: $2.99 Release Date: 12/11/13