Viper Comics Dead@17, is one of those titles you will either love or hate, but given the chance you might find yourself scouring the bins for the back issues, and collected volumes.
I was first intrigued by Dead@17, when I first came across Josh Howard’s artwork for the cover of the first issue on the Viper Comics website. A hot girl, in a school girl uniform, wielding an axe, killing zombies, and she’s dead? How can you not want to read it?
And I did, and over the months and years that followed (Dead@17 debuted in 2004) I followed the adventures Nara until the eventual end of the run. Now Josh is back with an all new Dead@17. We’re told this is the same universe as the previous (albeit several years later), but we are introduced to a brand new contender for the throne.
Howard’s writing is just so great to the point of even mocking himself. Asia is one of those feisty teens that are willing to kick the crap out of a guy that grabs her butt, and is at that point in her life where she doesn’t get along with her mother, and is a rebel at heart.
Even if you are not familiar with the previous Dead@17 run, don’t worry about getting lost and confused. Howard is able to bring in new characters with old themes that hark back to the old, while ushering in a brand new storyline. The hints to previous “world” events are filled in enough for the new user, without having to spend pages and pages catching the reader up. If anything, previous events will be tied together as the story progresses.
As bad as beating-the-hell-out-of-a-jerk-of-a-guy and-getting-punished-by-having-to-attend-summer-school is, it is even worse when your mother grounds you the night before your 17th birthday and your friends are throwing you a party.
It’s a good thing Mom has a little helper to get her by, as it gives Asia an excuse to sneak out of the house and have some fun.
In addition to the great writing, Howard’s art work is cute, without being too “indie”, and the simple lines and colors make everything pop.
New readers are also introduced to Reverend Henrick Stone who is on a crusade to bring the truth to the masses. That truth is the death of Senator Victor Alcasan. But the good reverend has a dark side, and later we find Stone has a demon locked in his basement that he takes great pleasure in beating and abusing.
Also in Darlington Hills is the Senator’s son, Zach Pitch, to claim his inheritance and attend to any final business.
Meanwhile, Asia’s party isn’t going so well. Like all teen parties, someone is doin’ it in the bedroom, and that someone is Asia’s recent ex with someone not Asia. What a great way to ruin a great evening…
It’s a night of ex’s as Asia returns home to find her mother’s ex leaving the scene and her mother beaten, bloodied, and unconscious in the living room. As her friend calls for help, Asia jumps in the car to chase the guy down.
Like any good car chase through the mountains, reckless driving, and the approaching car of Zach causes Asia to lose control and plunge off the side of a cliff.
Once again, by the end of the first issue, the lead character is dead.
But she’ll be back in issue two, as the story unravels. My only concern for this series is it doesn’t mirror the original material too closely in the story telling.
Dead@17 is not your regular superhero story, nor is it your typical zombie horror issue. Instead, Dead@17 is something in between that leaves you eagerly anticipating the next issue.
Dead@17 is good enough to earn a solid 4 Stars.