Review: Deadhorse #5

The last issue of Deadhorse left me uneasy, I’m not going to lie. It was a good issue, but I had to wonder where the story was going. It’s a fear that all readers have when a new series begins with characters devoid of a known history to reference and a new creative team to the industry. The fear comes from the inevitable mountain that all stories must climb down that will ultimately determine the quality of the rest of the series. Personally I find this descent not to be the fourth issue as some would instantly think, but the fifth issue. The fourth issue can do anything because it is the still at the top of the mountain starting the hike back down. The fifth issue however -- it determines the path that will take you the rest of the way down. This issue picks up with Edgar and Elise running from Sasquatch. It’s humorous as they run through one of the occupied cabins only to fall out the other side. They get a momentary break from the chase as Sasquatch is detained, which gives Elise and Edgar the opportunity to head into some once sacred caves for hiding. Pike on the other hand is in Deadhorse the town. We’ve seen glimmers of it in the previous issues, but now it’s bright and cheery which is anything but what it really looks like. Confused he fights through a crowd to find Elise who evades him. He stops in front of a dinner where he finds his father sitting by the window eating breakfast. He goes inside to talk with him, but a straight answer is never given to him about why he's there.

Deadhorse-5I can’t detail much of the story since it’s a visual experience that I have rarely if ever seen done in comics. I am going to give a spoiler warning here just so that I can talk about the core of the story, but I won’t give exact details.

It’s essentially a dream sequence that William is experiencing, but it reveals so much about his character at the same time. I honestly can say that it was some of the smartest writing and art combined in a comic that I have ever read. I have read plenty of dream sequences in comics and they’re always bad. I can’t even say that they’re usually bad, they’re just always bad. This sequence, which is mostly caused due to a blow to the head, is spot on. It’s not confusing and yet its full of metaphors and symbolism. What I also found important about this issue is that there is some connection between William and Elise, but what that is going to be has yet to develop.

This is going to be grammatically horrible, but the art “does work” in this issue. Sloan is put to the test and he produces some great pages. The sequential art does a lot of the work of the story, but at the same time is visually beautiful. It’s still art even without the dialog and story to accompany it. It’s so strong that you could show the entire dream sequence without dialog and it would tell a story. What was just perfect about the art was the coloring. There is a very clear difference between the dream and reality and that makes both sections stand out.

This is the strongest this series has ever been and has erased all doubt in my mind about where this series could possibly be going. There is just enough of the overall mystery revealed to keep the reader interested, while at the same time establishing new mysteries to be discovered later in the series. The writing and art find a perfect balance and hopefully they stay in sync for future issues; if so then this book is going to be stand out series in the comic industry.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Eric Grissom Artist: Phil Sloan Colorist: David Halvorson Publisher: 215 Ink Price: $3.99 Release Date: 9/19/12