Friday, January 21, 2011

I Reads You Review: DREAD AND ALIVE #4

ARTIST: Allan Jefferson
COLORS: Giovanna Guimaraes
COVER: Rodney Buchemi
24pp, Color

Dread & Alive is the first superhero comic book with a Jamaican as the protagonist. This new comic book series is created and written by Nicholas Da Silva. The other thing that is unusual about Dread & Alive is that each issue of the series comes with a music compilation. Essentially a soundtrack to a comic book, the music is meant to accompany the reading of the comic book. Readers can listen to tracks from reggae stars such as Lady Saw, Bunny Ruggs, and I Octane.

The hero of Dread & Alive is Drew McIntosh, the roaring Lion – half man/half animal and protector of the animal world (an eco-warrior, of sorts). Drew’s powers come from the Maroon Medallion, a sacred amulet created by the Jamaican Maroons (a group of runaway slaves and their descendants). Drew’s stomping ground is San Francisco, particular the Haight-Ashbury district where he makes his home.

In Dread & Alive #4, Drew and his love interest, Brandy Savage, get the lowdown on international animal poaching from Casey Forrester, an investigative reporter who focuses on environmental issues. Forrester has been targeted by Gryphon, a world renowned hunter and poacher, for assassination. In fact, Drew, as the roaring Lion, saved Casey from one of those attempts.

That battle between Drew and Gryphon captured the attention of the San Francisco PD. Now, two officers, Paz and Williams, are investigating San Fran’s new vigilante and getting closer to Drew. Meanwhile, the powerful shape shifter and Obeah man, ShadowCatcher, is stalking Brandy.

Dread & Alive reminds me of 1970s Marvel Comics titles like Marvel Chillers (featuring Tigra) and Vampire Tales (with Blade) – dark, moody, character-driven soap operas. Even as the writer, creator Nicholas Da Silva is quite visual in his storytelling. His attention to detail concerning motivations – all the characters’ motivations – can slow the story down a bit, but that will make the reader pay attention. If every character matters, the reader cannot dismiss anyone because he will never know from where the next surprise is coming.

Allan Jefferson (who is apparently replacing former series artist, Rodney Buchemi) has good storytelling skills, and his design style is from the Neal Adams school. I think he will serve Dread & Alive quite well. There is room for improvement on all fronts, but this is already a good comic book.

You can find a good overview of the series at Comic Vine.

Purchase CD and Comic Books here.

Dread and Alive #4 music compilation album on iTunes.

Album on

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