Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review - Deadhorse: Ballad of the Two Headed Dog #1


"The last payphone in America...is ringing."

Advice from a two-headed dog should probably come with a disclaimer. Unfortunately for the characters in Deadhorse: Ballad of the Two Headed Dog #1, that's not exactly the case. The issue is written and lettered by Eric Grissom, illustrated by Phil Sloan and colored by David Halvorson.

After the two-headed dog warns Nadya that there's a pay phone ringing, it's answered by someone simply saying "I am awake." Mr. Gadsworth tells the other person that he wants the key that William Pike has and will do whatever it takes to get it. Following that is an introduction to Jim, setting up Elise's mother to talk on TV. The thing is, readers of the first volume know that Elise isn't dead, but with a rather interesting character.

Grissom isn't shy when writing Deadhorse: Ballad of the Two Headed Dog #1, offering readers a rather complex universe that presents deep characters and a pretty involved storyline. Granted, readers of the first volume will get more out of this, but Grissom has made the second volume very accessible to new readers, so they won't feel too intimidated by all the story. Characters are presented rather effortlessly and really reward those who take the time to get invested in them. The story itself has a whodunnit sensibility to it, with all the characters seemingly operating on their own schedules and with their own plans in mind.

Sloan's art is a great complement to the story, with the characters very expressive despite the somewhat childish looking drawing style. That's not to say the style doesn't look good; in fact, it looks great. Sloan's style isn't conventional in the typical "comic book" sense, instead relying on Halvorson's newspaper-like filter that adds a griminess to the illustrations. Despite the seemingly consistent style, every character manages to feel completely different and unique, offering a wide range of viewpoints in a somewhat chaotic, twisting tale. There's also some really interesting panel layouts, keeping the pages feeling fresh and dynamic.

Deadhorse: Ballad of the Two Headed Dog #1 is an entertaining and rewarding read. The characters are all presented as truly individual components of a larger whole and all seem likely to play a part in the grand scheme of things. Grissom's writing is pretty fast-paced and clever, presenting a tale that requires your full attention. Sloan's art style is up to the task of matching Grissom's story, packing every panel with some really subtle approaches that make reading the book another time. Overall, Deadhorse: Ballad of the Two Headed Dog #1 is very fun and a great way to get in on a great series.

Deadhorse: Ballad of the Two Headed Dog #1 is available via Comixology now.

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