Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Ryan Bodenheim
First issues are hard to do. You have this idea that you want to put into a series, so now your job in making a first issue is to give the readers enough to be interested without giving too much away so that you can continue to bring readers back for the next issue. A lot of the time, I’ll read a first issue that’s mildly interesting, but the story or idea isn’t completely fleshed out yet. You can tell that the writer has an idea, and you feel like one day it might be a good idea, but at the moment the idea’s either still in its infancy phase or the writer did a poor job of introducing it right. With The Dying and the Dead, none of these problems appear whatsoever. After reading only 15 pages of this massive 60-page first issue, I already called my local comic store and asked them to add the series to my pull list. It’s clear that Hickman has a grand plan for this series, and I want to be there every step of the way.
The book starts off with a wedding-gone-wrong and spirals from there. Jonathan Hickman wastes no time in bombarding the reader with many different plot lines, which initially makes the read a bit confusing. However once our protagonist, Colonel Edward James Canning, enters the scene we start to see the main plot of the story unfold. Without giving too much away, the Colonel is approached by long-living humanoid beings who tell him they are in need of a hero to save their world. In exchange for his help, these beings have offered to cure the Colonel’s wife, who is dying of cancer. The Colonel also seems to have a past with these beings, but it’s not elaborated on.
Hickman’s writing is phenomenal as always; the pacing of the story is very well done, and even though it feels like a lot of information is thrown at you quickly the way it’s done is smart and gets the reader hooked. The dialogue is great as well, and the character interactions are genuine and interesting. Colonel gets a partner of sorts on his mission in this issue, so I can’t wait to see their dynamic as the series progresses. These characters are further brought to life with Ryan Bodenheim’s fantastic artwork. The line work is incredibly well done, and the backgrounds are so detailed that at times they almost look photographic. These two talented men have come together to create something really special.