The Dead Hand #1
Written by Kyle Higgins
Drawn by Stephen Mooney
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
Review by KrisK
There is something wonderful about a good spy story. It’s crisp and intelligent, but yet nostalgic. So when I saw they were coming out with a new spy comic, I jumped to read it. I don’t regret it.
The Dead Hand starts out a pretty standard story. The main character is special agent Carter Coulson. (I don’t know if they purposely named the lead after Phil Coulson and Peggy Carter, but I love it) He was part of a black ops American team during the end of the Cold War. His last mission was investigating an operation codenamed Dead Hand. Fast forward several years and Carter works as the local law in a secluded town called Mountain View. It’s a town where you have to use satellite phones to make calls, and they don’t have the internet.
A British writer stumbles into town. He says he was hiking in the mountains, and he got lost. The town is highly secluded, and they have never had a visitor pop in. Carter and some locals get the man water and talk to him. Then there are two twists. One is not that surprising; the other, I never saw coming. The issue surprises in a way I have never seen before, and it intrigued me thoroughly.
The writing is pretty straight forward. Carter is a pretty typical Cold War soldier, and the story doesn’t take too much time developing any other characters except Vil, the man who leads the black ops team. Vil develops as a character, yes, but he still probably won’t return in any other issues and he mostly seems to exist to serve as a foil to Carter. The pace is consistent but slow for the first two thirds. Then it drops its bomb, and it delivers the premise of the series. This isn’t the best written first issue I have ever read, but it does have the best reveal, so I am definitely checking out the next issue.
The art reminds me of the Winter Soldier comics, both in Captain America and in his solo series mixed with a dash of Archer. I have no doubt it is intentional, but I don’t hold that against them. Mooney’s deft drawing give life to the story, and there are several splash pages worth taking a few extra seconds to inspect. The colors by Jordie are always on point, and I can’t look at any panel and imagine it any other way. Clayton Cowles gives his subtle touches with the letters, and he is still the best letterer in the game, and one of the few who have achieved name recognition, even ignoring his other accomplishments in comics.
I do wish this book was a little quicker in pace, but I know they were just taking their time so they could deliver the twist in the final pages.
Verdict: Buy. This books final pages earned the cover price alone, and I boggle at the possibilities going forward.