I tend to do this to myself a lot, I get a book that I’m looking forward to reading and then I sit on the book for either too long or long enough that everyone else is talking about it. Which usually means the book is good… actually 9/10 times it means it’s good or great. Dead Man’s Run is one of those nine. The concept is a jailbreak from prison and Hell is the prison. That’s it, that damn simple, but so very effective.
Aspen loves its zero issues, mostly because it generates interest in the title and has a lower production cost. Add a fifty/fifty cover and you turn a nice profit on the book that amps up the attention for the series. Dead Man’s Run is no exception, but it does something typical Aspen zero issues fail at… it tells one hell of a story.
It also gets the basics of any new series out of the way although I’m sure that several points will be repeated in the first issue; but it gives us the setting, some of the main characters and explains the “rules”that the book is following. For instance the biggest rule being that you can escape from Hell and you can take your possessions with you. Think of the rules like this: If you write a story and make it a point to say over and over that no one can walk-through walls, then have your main character walk-through a wall you need to explain why they broke your rule and even then most people will call bullshit on your story. Dead Man doesn't do that, it lays out the rules and it follows them to a “T”, but ever so subtle.
The story is about a prison break that has nearly reached the surface from Hell. The man in charge of security decides to go inside and stop the riot even after being directed not to. Once inside he sees Hell for what it is and even meets some old friends. But as writer Greg Pak says in the back of the book, Hell is ultimate justice and everyone gets what’s coming to them.
This is a good book and my only grip is that it may overshadow the first issue. It’s short, interesting and beautifully drawn. There is an underlining sense that this comic is being used as a jumping off point for a movie and even if that’s all it is, this is still a great product with a great team assembled. The first issue has its work cut out for it, but you can beat your ass I’ll be there for it.
Writer: Greg Pak Artist: Tony Parker Publisher: Aspen Comics