By Ben Snyder
Once again I find myself hooked by another twist so cleverly placed at the end of The Dead Hand #2. Each chapter, I feel as if I understand the world of Mountain View and am fairly knowledgeable of its rules only for the end to upheave me. Writer Kyle Higgins, artist Stephen Mooney, and Colorist Jordie Bellaire continue to contort tropes and subvert expectations in the latest issue of The Dead Hand resulting in another standout chapter for the fledgling series.
It’s so refreshing to have a story land its twists chapter after chapter and not feeling gimmicky. The ending to this chapter felt organic and inspired theories on what is actually happening in the quaint Mountain View and what it’s residents true intentions are. Did Carter actually defect to the Soviets or is he only staying there to ward off a nuclear war? What are the notoriously ruthless Renae’s true intentions and who is her daughter’s father? And most importantly what exactly is Roger? The entire chapter characters make numerous remarks as to whether someone should check in on Roger as if he were the CEO of this organization but in actuality he something else entirely and Kyle Higgins toys with this expectation brilliantly.
Higgins does a great job of keeping each individual character’s roles and motivations hidden. We still don’t know who the main protagonist is, if there is one. Most of the flashbacks are told through Carter’s point of view, but as of now it seems the book may be shifting towards Harriet’s story arc. That’s not evening mentioning Harriet’s mother, Renae who could very well still be a paid mercenary waiting for her time to strike. Leading the issue off with the flashback of Renae betraying Carter was very effective in setting the mood and foreshadowing the ambiguity present in each character.
Stephen Mooney's art suits this story well as he is adept at portraying the chaos present in Carter’s flashbacks as well as the paranoia and calmness in Mountain View. His line work and character design is noteworthy, but one detail I noticed in particular this chapter is Mooney’s panel layout. He doesn’t experiment or particularly play around with the panel layout in particular often, but when he does it holds the focus and is purposeful.
Much of Mooney’s success is owed to Bellaire exceptional colors as he continues to prolong his dominance of his craft. Speaking of the panel layouts, the most effective ones are when Mooney and Bellaire combine and the panels blend into each other only differentiated by colors, or the use of blank space in the gutters or background. Bellaire’s use of darkness to blur the lines between panel and background is noteworthy as it envelops the character and only emphasizes the paranoid undertones of the story.
The Dead Hand #2 is fantastic and the creative team behind this story is a powerhouse. It’s not too late to begin the series as there are still so many questions up in the air and missing this series seems criminal.
The Dead Hand #2