Review - Dead Man's Party TPB (@DarbyPopComics)

"Took four days of recon to find the weak spot: the two o' clock Vino Sulla Veranda."

Parties are generally lively affairs, filled with good food, good drinks and good conversation. You'd be hard-pressed to find a party that wasn't enjoyable, but a dead man's party may be one such party. A dead man's party is when all your fellow hitmen attempt to take up the bounty on your head. It's a fascinating concept that's explored in Dead Man's Party TPB from Darby Pop Publishing. The TPB is written by Jeff Marsick, illustrated by Scott Barnett, colored by Sandra Hogue and Katelyn Amacker and lettered by Erica Schultz.

In the assassin trade, it’s called a Dead Man’s Party: Part Viking Funeral, Part Irish Wake. It’s a twisted way for your murderous peers to either honor your memory or settle a score. The Party can’t be cancelled, and each of the five professional killers who are “invited” have 30 days to collect the bounty on your head and add your distinguished name to their resume. For the world’s most feared hitman – known only as Ghost – arranging a Party is a last resort, a way to go out on his own terms. The invitations are sent, the executioners are coming… And that’s when Ghost discovers that he’s made a terrible mistake.

The biggest draw to Dead Man's Party TPB is the lead character known simply as Ghost. Marsick writes him as the best he is at what he does and then challenges that notion by throwing some of the strongest competitors against him. The thing about Ghost though is that he's still human and Marsick writes him with those weaknesses in mind in a way that makes him fallible. Much is revealed about Ghost through his interactions with those seeking to kill him and the reader is taken on a whirlwind tour of the world as Ghost seeks to uncover who's behind the party. The dialogue doesn't feel overwhelmingly narrative-focused; instead, it relies on presenting the story in a way that flows and feels pretty organic.

There's an interesting art style at the heart of Dead Man's Party TPB that leans on painted influences. Barnett's characters feel realistic in their presentation because of the style and it adds another layer of complexity to the story. The style also affords the characters more realistic facial expressions that further adds to the realism, making Ghost's role as an elite contract killer more believable. It's hard to make such an art style really work for a book, but Barnett pulls it off pretty well. The colors by Hogue and Amacker are mostly understated and simple, but most of the book does have a sepia-toned hue to it all.

Dead Man's Party TPB is a pretty interesting take on a concept not very well-known outside of professional hitmen circles. Ghost is an expert at the job, but even his mettle is tested when he's forced to go up against others of a similar caliber as he. Marsick's script is clean and engaging, bringing the reader along for a pretty frenetic ride. Barnett's illustrations are a good fit for the story and add a layer of realism to a pretty intense scenario. Dead Man's Party TPB is a great read and offers a new take on crime dramas.

Dead Man's Party TPB is in stores now.