Writers: Mark Russell
Artists: Benjamin Tiesma, Vladimir Popov
Deadbox #1 grabbed me from the very first panel. This horror comic blends in sharp social commentary, with fantasy and science fiction elements. All these elements make for a superb first issue that will certainly draw me back for #2.
This story, at least for #1, is a story about. . . well, stories. Who creates them and for what purpose? This issue asks how we, as a society, define ourselves with the shared stories of our culture. This issue explores stories tied to land. It examines who owns land, how land ownership is justified, and what ends up being owed once a claim is made. There is a lot of critique of American exceptionalism as well as the concept of Manifest Destiny, even if these words aren’t outright used in the comic.
There are few characters in this issue. This comic does a lot of “telling” the story through captions, as it uses a story-within-a-story structure. The real story–or IRL story–is about a young woman who should be going back to college, but her father is sick, so instead, she is staying home to take care of him. Her home is the town of Lost Turkey. Prophetic, to say the least. I couldn’t help but smile every time I read that. The other story is a DVD movie this young woman is watching. This DVD comes from a Redbox. . . or Deadbox that only contains films nobody has ever heard of. The DVD movie the protagonist watches is one big metaphor for… well, a lot of things, but mostly for her father’s degradation and her solitude as she cares for him.
For a comic that relies so heavily on captions to tell the story, the art is by no means secondary. From the first panel, a recreated postcard that reads “Greetings from. . . Lost Turkey” uses bright colors, paired with dark, and nearly crude, lines give a sense of possibilities and optimism, but on the very next panel, if you look closer, you’ll notice tattered scraps of a flag, grass in sidewalk cracks and other signs of neglect. This nuance consists throughout the issue.
Lastly, even though the issue relies so heavily on captions, it doesn’t feel overly crammed with exposition. The lettering, speech balloons, and captions are discrete enough that it all feels like a continuous flow of the story, even when switching between the IRL narrative and the metaphorical one.
An outstanding first issue that blends all the genres into one tidy package, with a taste of societal criticism.