"Deathbed #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Vertigo
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Riley Rossmo
Colored by Ivan Plascencia
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on February 21st, 2018
Under-the-radar adventurer Antonio Luna is dying. Before he shuffles off this mortal coil, he wants to tell his life story, so he recruits failed novelist Valentine Richards to ghostwrite his autobiography. This seems like a regular gig on the surface, but Val quickly finds out just how crazy and dangerous Antonio is, not to mention the monsters and villains that are looking to end his life sooner than expected. This could be the story of the century...or it could mean her death too. That can be a tough decision to make.
Deathbed had me before I even opened the comic based on the creative team alone. Writer Joshua Williamson and artist Riley Rossmo is like a dream team of comics. Toss in colorist Ivan Plascencia and you've got a recipe for a pretty great book. But does it deliver? Oh, it definitely does.
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There's some great pacing in Deathbed with several carefully placed double-page spreads to showcase the power of a given moment. The first one is when Antonio is born and we see him brought out in the swamp where zombies and assorted creatures are roaming about. This immediately sets the vibe for the series and it only gets more intense from there. These spreads deliver a ton of information about the characters and the setting without the need for a lot of expository dialogue. Rossmo packs these with some brilliant detail that allows you to comb through each one for a while to get every last bit of it.
At first, Antonio seems like a lunatic. He could just be an eccentric millionaire living in a castle in the middle of nowhere. Val couldn't find any details about him online, which is virtually impossible in this day and age. Then the oddities start to add up in the background until the creators tear the lid off with a horde of “undead mummy assassins.” Yes, they are just as cool as they sound.
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There are some pages where Rossmo has crammed in a ton of smaller panels, each focusing on specific details. We see this first when we're introduced to Val, with each small image giving you a glimpse of an aspect of her life. It's also used during the fight with the aforementioned undead mummy assassins. In this case, we see the same shot of Val again and again, interspersed with insane gore and violence. Each time we come back to Val, her face has more and more blood splatter on it.
Deathbed is a fast-moving, gorgeously illustrated tale of supernatural adventure. It has the feel of a grown-up version of Goners, which is another series I love. The interaction between Antonio and Val is already delivering and I'm very interested to see where this unlikely duo could go. If this first issue is any indication, it's going to be completely insane.