Review - Dead Drop #1

"--This is about survival."

Fighting terrorism helps when you have a warrior on your side centuries old and in possession of a fancy suit of armor. That suit of armor definitely gives the good guys the advantage, but it doesn't make everything automatically easier. If things were easy though, books like Dead Drop #1 from Valiant Entertainment wouldn't be as fun. The issue is written by Ales Kot, illustrated by Adam Gorham, colored by Michael Spicer and lettered by Dave Sharpe.

There is a secret black market in New York. It is hidden in plain sight – in our streets, trains, restaurants. Those who know how to navigate it exchange secrets of extraordinary nature. But when the secret in circulation is a biological weapon derived from Vine technology, the gloves are off – and the most extraordinary agents are released to stop the disaster before it occurs. Otherwise, in less than thirty minutes, there will be no world to come back to. X-O Manowar, Archer, Neville Alcott, Detective Cejudo and Beta-Max are ready to save the world.

Kudos to Kot for having Dead Drop #1 hit the ground running and not stopping--even when the issue is done. His Aric is calmer and more collected, comfortable being X-O Manowar and keenly aware of what must be done to save humanity. Considering most (if not all) of the issue is Aric chasing a would-be terrorist, Kot still manages to spend time with Aric, revealing bits and pieces of his personality and the situation throughout. The breakneck pace of the script also keeps the story moving and the reader on their toes, even when Kot works in "calmer" interactions between Aric and the NYPD. There's a larger story being crafted that Kot refuses to lose sight of in the meantime, ensuring that the reader knows X-O Manowar has a place in the grander scheme of things.
Much of the frenetic action is handled well by Gorham, whose style is edgy. There's a certain rigidity to his style that manages to make every panel feel like a freeze-frame of faster action. The best way to put it is if you're watching a high-speed chase in slow motion--you know it's moving fast, but when you slow it down you take everything in. It's a testament to Gorham's ability that his style manages to keep up well with the fast-paced script, showcasing every deft maneuver by both the pursuer and pursuee. Spicer's colors are simple and stay primary, doing enough to differentiate characters from one another and backgrounds, but not so much that the reader is distracted.

Dead Drop #1 is pretty thrilling from start to finish. It's only the first part of a much more robust tale, but it does a perfect job of setting the tone, establishing the stakes and giving the reader a glimpse at X-O Manowar off-duty from some of his more rigorous defending duties. Kot's script is snappy and carefully choreographs a foot chase through the streets of New York City. Gorham's illustrations come with a sharp look to them whose extreme kinetic sense works exceptionally well when paired with the pacing of the script. Dead Drop #1 should find its way into the hands of just about any reader, but Valiant fans already know it's just another solid book from the awesome publisher.

Dead Drop #1 is in stores now.