By Ben Snyder
Slowly the iron curtain is starting to be pulled back ever so slightly in The Dead Hand #3. In the third chapter we are introduced to the smooth-talking counterpart of Carter Carlson, who is simply known as Ellis (people sound much cooler when they only go by one name). Kyle Higgins, Stephen Mooney, and Jordie Bellaire continue their triumphant run with another stellar entry into the fledging series. While the other two entries relied on superb endings (this one does too), the third chapter succeeds more so for it’s subtlety as it introduces new characters and agendas, while hinting that it may not be as it seems.
The brief introduction of Ellis was truly effective at convincing the reader that he is in fact as badass. Imagine a James Bond-esque character but with implied darker and more vicious tendencies. Seeing him dispatch a group of attackers from his own agency without breaking a sweat proved that he would be a formidable match for the ex-American super soldier.
Upon my initial read of the entry I found it odd that in the schools at Mountain View they teach that the Russians were the enemy in the Cold War. Obviously they are mocking an American/English town, but you’d figure since they're based in Russia, they’d want to make them the heroes. It’s another way Higgins’s script subverts the readers’ expectations, constantly asking them to reevaluate what they think they know.
Plus, that ending… It seems that every issue will end with a bombshell reveal that will throw everything proceeding it in a new light. At first, it felt like Carter enjoyed this new city and defected from America for it for unknown reasons, but after that reveal is he simply being even more patriotic? Especially now that we know that some government leaders from various countries are involved as well. The spider web of connections and influences keep expanding as well as each characters motives. I’m starting to have doubts that the final reveal won’t match the intense buildup, but this is only speculation so far as Higgins has nailed the story as of yet.
While the art overall remains pretty standard throughout this chapter, Stephen Mooney does enough to spice it up and hold the readers attention, especially when focusing on the new character Ellis. Mooney goes to extra lengths blurring the panel lines and advancing the flow of the character. The additional dialogue from Higgins seemed almost superfluous, which is a tremendous credit to Mooney’s overall style. Jordie Bellaire’s colors only emphasized this. The scene in which Ellis is ambushed is beautiful as Bellaire bleaches Mooney’s figures in a sepia/orange tone that make the fight scene feel pulpy and lethal. It was confusing and hectic at points but it was really effective.
The Dead Hand #3 continues the series’s hot streak. While in some stories ending each chapter could lead to some fatigue, Higgins, Mooney, and Bellaire are so effective in each of their fields that it works. I anticipate each new chapter as I wonder how the team will alter my perspective of the story next.
The Dead Hand #3