Published by Image Comics, January 2015
Story: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Ryan Bodenheim
Colors: Michael Garland
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Covers By: Ryan Bodenheim
Synopsis: We open up to what seems to be a brief history in time for what should be a lifetime of marriage transpiring on one very special but gruesome day. The narration makes for a strong opening, a type of Greek tragedy playing out before your eyes. Love between two people, the love for a sister, and death. A pretty potent cocktail of sorts leading to a climactic ending of the first scene as our mysterious group lay waste to the wedding party and a type of sacrificial offering of one in what seems to be twins, one ending the life of another but for what? What is so important that she must sacrifice herself because of decisions made. Symbolism runs deep in Hickman’s work and I can only assume we’ll be knee deep in it with this new series. Jonathan is known for developing his stories over a lengthy time frame feeding the reader the necessary building blocks that make for a all encompassing story. Each character injected at just the right time with enough detail to create a sort of bond between you as the reader and the characters involved with the story. That feeling of caring for each of his characters are what make Hickman’s stories so enjoyable to read. You care and thus you plow forward and when philosophy is tacked on as building blocks to the story, on top of those characters you begin to care for, creates more diverse and in depth plots adding more wood to the fire. It’s probably why I read just about anything Jonathan writes, it’s just so well thought out, 10 steps ahead of what you think you are reading and it grabs hold of you, thus never letting go. I’ve been following Jonathan Hickman’s other two Image Comic series East of West and The Manhattan Projects where symbolism runs rampant, the stories are heart quaking, and the characters just plain belong in a movie. I mean when is the Syfy Channel gonna pick these series up. I would love to witness an onscreen adaption, movie or TV series to some of his works. Jonathon Hickman’s many works, providing the breadcrumbs to the meaning of life.
After the wedding we shift 2 weeks forward to our main character Edward James Canning or just simply known as the Colonel sitting in a hospital room where his wife Clair lays dying. No medicine of man can save her but there may be another way, a person that goes by the name of the Bishop that could help. The Bishop belongs to a group of beings dressed in white, complexion white, where time practically stands still. They need him to do something, something that they themselves cannot do. We learn of the twins whom in fact are not twins but a massive group of dare I say clones? They are the ones that raided the wedding and stole the object referred to only as the Bah al’Sharur. This object shares some significant purpose to The Bishop. There are plenty of plots seeded throughout this first issue introducing many factions that will most likely play a very large part in what is to come for our lead character.Colonel journeys with this mysterious messenger as he provides his assessment or speculation of sorts concerning free will and the decisions involved in ones life. They arrive just outside Amarillo, Texas to a small but quaint looking church house. Misleading in size the church hides a secret, The City. We are introduced to The Bishop’s second, Shurra al Alum Era…where we are quickly cut off by the Colonel as he simply states that he does not care to know her name as with any name involved with this group. We learn about some history between the Colonel and The City from a previous time, a time when The City was burning yet our helpful adviser that we can only assume has been alive for centuries believes nothing the Colonel says. That leads me to wonder who really is older, who really is in the know, and how does time play into this little world Hickman is creating.
Religion plays a big part of our final meeting between the Colonel and The Bishop. It seems that all of human culture, philosophy, and religious outlets have spawned from The City and it’s inhabitants. Yes, political as it may seem we have another power group laying claim to the creation of human society. Lies fed to keep the outside in a haze while control is maintained. A tree of life? Many trees of life? A garden of Eden? Does god truly exist and does The Bishop follow like the Pope in Rome? Well, as the Colonel makes the deal to save his beloved wife the hunt begins for the allusive artifact that so many wish to possess; the Bah al’Sharur.
Panel/Layout: This comic is a massively oversized page turner numbering in at 60 pages and while this won’t be the norm for future books it definitely is a value at $4.50 cover price. The artwork is amazing and with the amount of storytelling Jonathan Hickman is known for I’m pretty sure that Ryan Bodenheim will have plenty more opportunities to stun us with his imaginative translations from script to pencil.
Verdict: This is the start to another interesting series by Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Bodenheim. With the potential news that Jonathan will be taking a nap so-to-speak from writing for Marvel but still continuing his endeavors with this project and the other two also with Image Comics (The Manhattan Projects and East of West) then that means this series, like the others will have more focus time for in depth writing of the many plots and twists that these series are known for. Taking that into consideration I can only assume that The Dying & The Dead will also have a roller coaster style ride with twists and turns making this another awe inspiring story to follow. I look forward to each issue and hope it’s every bit as good as the other two, both of which I’ve been enjoying from the beginning. Here’s to the next great story to encompass my time and love for comic book reading.