“It’s so refreshing when cover art just leaps off the shelf at you. Artist Chris Visions has created a cover that’s both modern and hauntingly surreal.  Visions’ interior work has a fluidity that synergizes writer Christopher Sebela’s mixture of crime noir and supernatural other-worldliness.”

Dead Letters #1

Publisher: Boom! Studios
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Chris Visions
Colorist: Ruth Redmond
Letterer: Steve Wands

In an industry where reiteration has become the norm, both readers and retailers have the daunting task of sifting through tons and tons of the same mish-mash of monthly pamphlets…and, sometimes, books can slip through the cracks into obscurity as the next deluge of comic book goodness snatches up our collective consciousness the following Wednesday.

Boom! Studios recently announced that their new book, Dead Letters #1, is heading back for a second printing.  This sort of thing grabs my attention.  If retailers are buying this book then that means someone is picking it off the shelves.  So, upon reading the announcement, I hopped in my car and drove to the local comic shop to grab a copy.

It is such a refreshing feeling when the cover art from the first issue of Dead Letters leaps out at you from the shelf.  Artist Chris Visions has created an eye-catching cover image that is both modern and hauntingly surreal.  Visions’ interior work has a fluidity that synergizes writer Christopher Sebela’s mixture of crime noir and supernatural other-worldliness.  I would also be remiss to not mention colorist Ruth Redmond’s wonderful work.  She is this band’s bass guitarist and her pallet gives Visions’ art a very necessary sense of texture.

Their lead, Sam Whistler, is complex as an amnesiac who has a strangely reluctant desire to start over.  He wants to remember and yet he doesn’t.  It’s a compelling bit of characterization that drives the story’s first act. I was engrossed by the fast-paced mixture of watery color and fluid movement from page to page.  These elements were arresting in the best possible way and, again, they seemed to lend a hand in the confusing state of Whistler’s lack of clarity.  I am very interested in how this artistic style will change with the story as Whistler regains his faculties.

My one criticism rests in the trappings of a first issue that has so much speed in the fluidity of a story that starts “in medias res”.  There are a number of characters that are introduced en masse who play a role in Whistler’s re-establishment into whatever realm he’s passed.  Whether it’s Ma or Jones or Maia, they seem to be in on the story that is still eluding the reader. I experienced a sense of confusion that was a little jarring but I also considered that there might be a degree of intent in the confusing delivery.

The immersed quality of the story will make you start to feel what Sam Whistler is feeling as this blurring sense of uncertainty propels you through the story.  At the end of the issue, Whistler is pulled off to the side in moment of reprieve from the story’s rampant pace and he’s given the lay of the land.  It’s not exactly a reinvention of the wheel in terms of concept but Sebela’s delivery of “how things work” in Dead Letters sets up a solid foundation for the rest of the story.  Basically, Whistler has been planted into the middle of crime-infested purgatory that’s simply referred to as “Here”; a single note of poignant dialog that is trite and fulfilling all at the same time.  It’s a moment that really rings true as Whistler gazes out the window of a diner and the reader is left hanging until next month when #2 hits stores.

If you’re a fan of Old Boy and twisted mash-ups that involve fairy tales like Alice In Wonderland and bullet casing packed John Woo-style pacing, Dead Letters #1 is a definite MUST for your pull this week if you missed its release last week.  If your store is sold out, at least take comfort that a second printing is coming very soon.

Dead Letters #1
8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)