Friday, May 9, 2014

I Reads You Review: DEAD BOY DETECTIVES #1

DC COMICS/Vertigo – @DCComics  @vertigo_comics

STORY: Toby Litt and Mark Buckingham
SCRIPT: Toby Litt
PENCILS: Mark Buckingham
INKS: Gary Erskine
COLORS: Lee Loughridge
LETTERS: Todd Klein
EDITOR: Shelly Bond
COVER: Mark Buckingham
32pp, Color, $2.99 U.S. (February 2014)

Rated “T” for Teen

“Schoolboy Terrors” The New Girl, Part 1 of 4

Dead Boy Detectives created by Neil Gaiman and artists Matt Wagner and Malcolm Jones III

In preparation for Vertigo Comics’ new ongoing series, Dead Boy Detectives, I read The Sandman Presents: The Deadboy Detectives.  This 2001 miniseries was written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Bryan Talbot (pencils) and Steve Leialoha (inks), with colors by Daniel Vozzo.  I loved it because this miniseries is the kind of comic book that is the reason I keep reading comic books.

I am not as enamored with the new series, Dead Boy Detectives, which launched a few months ago.  A production of the creative team of Toby Litt and Mark Buckingham, the first issue of Dead Boy Detectives is not quite tepid, but it certainly lacks the sparkling wit and dazzling imagination of The Sandman Presents: The Deadboy Detectives #1.

For those that don’t know, “The Dead Boy Detectives” are Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland.  The two characters first appeared in The Sandman #25 (cover dated: April, 1991) and were created by writer Neil Gaiman and artists Matt Wagner and Malcolm Jones III.  Paine was murdered at his British boarding school, Saint Hilarion’s, in 1916, and spent 75 years in Hell.  He escaped in 1991 and returned to Hilarion’s, where he met Rowland (during the events depicted in The Sandman story arc, Seasons of Mist).  Rowland died during this time, but refused to accompany Death, preferring the prospect of future adventures with Paine.  The two ghosts spent a decade haunting places, preparing to become “first-rate detectives.”

As Dead Boy Detectives #1 begins, Edwin and Charles are observing the spectacle that is British performance artist, Maddy Surname.  With her rock star husband, Seth Von Hoverkraft, Maddy plans to steal Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, “Sunflowers,” from the British National Gallery.  They will replace Van Gogh’s masterpiece with another painting that Maddy will steal before the Van Gogh theft.  Maddy and Seth’s daughter, Crystal Palace, seems an unwilling participant in the performance.

However, some others decide that they also want play in this game, and it has a great affect on Crystal Palace.  Now, Crystal makes a decision that will have the Dead Boy Detectives shadowing her to a familiar place.

With Brubaker’s layered story and radiant characters and Bryan Talbot and Steve Leialoha’s textured and detailed art, The Sandman Presents: The Deadboy Detectives was a dazzling fantasy, graphic novella.  Toby Litt and Mark Buckingham offer something with potential, but, at this point, it seems like little more than a story with its style lifted from Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World.

I must say that I do like the art by Buckingham (pencils), Gary Erskine (inks), and Lee Loughridge (colors).  Beyond that, I guess I’ll just have to keep reading.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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