Review - Dead Universe Year One #1

What happens in a universe full of death? A lot of short stories apparently. That's just the case in Dead Universe Year One #1 from Dead Universe Publishing.

The book features the stories "Apes 'n' Capes" by Grainne McEntee and Matt Rooke, "Demon Gate" by William Axtell, "I Want to Be a Dragon" by Patrick Clinte and Brett Uren, "Kaiju Steel: White Out" by Steve Collier and Lee Killeen, "Little Terrors! Day Zero" by Jon Scrivens, "Nowhereville: Stopover" by Ken Conlow, "The Gentleman" by Andy W. Clift, "The Greys/Monsters" by Vincent Mealing and Mark Crutch and "The Vale" by Brett Uren and F. Harmon.

All the stories two-pagers and they range in subject matter from a child wishing to be something more, demons taking over the world and apes trying to convince pandas to eating pizza. The stories are all sorts of random, but all are predicated on this concept of a relatively big twist at the end of the tale. They're some pretty wild tales, some of which rely on previously referenced pop culture stories, while others draw on new ideas.

The writers are varied in the book. McEntee adds a ton of brogue to his tale, Axtell relies on a group's decision to grab the world, Clinte's is about youthful innocence and Collier's relies on wonderment. Scrivenss tale twists the zombie idea, Conlow's is about passing through, Clift's is a nod to Bender, Mealing's features alien architects and Uren's features some crazy creatures. Again, there's nothing really tying them all together, but that's ok.

The art is equally as varied as the writing. Rooke relies on black and white renderings, Axtell's is colorful, Uren's is amorphous and Killeen's is glossy (and the reveal is pretty awesome). Scrivens art is pretty violent, Conlow's is somewhat stilted, Clift's is very slick, Crutch's has a newspaper strip feel to it and Harmon's art is hypercolor inked. The art all fits the various stories well and the styles are different enough that it all feels good.

As anthologies go, Dead Universe Year One #1 isn't bad. It's really more of a preview book for some of the other stuff the publisher is putting out, but it's free. There's some interesting tales to be enjoyed in the book and if you like what you read, there's definitely a ton more where it came from. The book's got a good mix of talent on both the writing and artistic sides of things, so be sure to check it out.

Dead Universe Year One #1 hits stores on Free Comic Book Day for, well, free.