Chris Sebela is one of the few creators nowadays who basically earns my money every time he puts a new comic out on the shelves, on the strength of High Crimes and Dead Letters. They share just enough similarities to be in the same genre, but issues like this remind you that for as much as things may seem the same, they couldn’t be more different. That’s in no small part thanks to the variety of his artists, and Chris Visions is one of the unsung artists working these days. Sam has found an old acquaintance in Here who may turn out to be enemy or ally, given their history together. The only for-sure is that this new acquaintance is going to help Sam take down the Saints of Nowhere with the help of his crazy bodyguard (since Sam’s assistant, Maia, is just no help). Once again, Sam finds himself in possession of one thing that all the factions in Here are going to want--a very special severed head.
One of the things that Sebela and Visions are fantastic at is the overlaying of a monologue into a scene where something visually interesting is happening. It’s one of those things that writers starting out tend to forget--It’s your comic, as long as it’s clear who’s speaking, why isn’t there rad shit going on? The first three pages of this issue could have taken place in a moodily-lit back room, interesting for a panel but less impressive as it went on; instead Sebela and Visions set it over a parallel narrative within the story. It’s economy of storytelling, and it presents rad visuals that comics excel at, especially when Visions is the one rendering them.
Part of the beauty of a story that exists in a purgatorial space and bases itself on a narrative genre where a lot of things happen, but in the end pretty much everything stays the same, is that Sebela and Visions have a nigh-innumerable amount of places they can go with Dead Letters. With a noir story, you just need a certain kind of protagonist, a certain kind of crime, and a certain kind of dead body, and you’re off to the races. The rest is all set dressing, and Sebela and Visions know that. That’s part of what makes Dead Letters sing every month. This is a story that has a strong protagonist for an axis and any amount of stories that can revolve around him. I mean... it’s not like he’s going anywhere. That’s the beauty of purgatory.
I would be remiss if I didn’t call Visions out again for being phenomenal. Watching him work must be like what it was like when Bill Sienkiewicz decided he was gonna do his own thing with Moon Knight. It’s an energetic and dense art style that makes you work for the details, but it doesn’t hide them from you. It’s almost like an overstimulation, where the panel layouts and the panels themselves are trying new things, and by the grace of a benevolent god, they all work like a charm. I love every page of what he does with Dead Letters, and I’m already excited to find out what else he may end up doing in the near future.
Go pick up the trade for this book, pick up last month’s issue, and pick up this week’s. Catch up. They may be stuck in purgatory, but this story is riding off the rails into a crazy mystery, and I’m loving every panel.
Writer: Christopher Sebela Artist: Chris Visions Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/26/14 Format: Print/Digital