"R.I.P.D." Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally published as R.I.P.D. #1 - #4
Written by Peter M. Lenkov
Illustrated by Lucas Marangon
1999, 98 Pages
Trade Paperback released on March 26th, 2013
The mystery of what happens to us after we die is one that humanity will probably never fully answer. It's kind of a one way trip. Just in case you get any ideas about returning to the land of the living after you've shuffled off this mortal coil, the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.) will be there to send you back where you belong. The four-issue mini-series is heading to the big screen with an adaptation starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds, so Dark Horse Comics has re-released it in a fancy new trade paperback.
R.I.P.D. centers on Nick Cruz, a hotshot cop who found himself on the wrong end of a drug bust. After he's put six feet under, he wakes up in the DMV from Hell, where he's given an offer to solve his own murder in exchange for a hundred years of service to the department. Sure, since he's dead, time doesn't have any real meaning, but it's preventing him from crossing through the pearly gates. He signs up right away and sets out to put down ghouls and demons with his partner Roy Pulsipher. They already have a big case too, as a demon has escaped from Hell and managed to get his hands on Michael's sword.
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The premise of R.I.P.D. is interesting. Instead of having the angels do this dirty work, God has enlisted some of the best cops history has seen to get the job done. Nick is from the present and Roy is a cowboy from the Wild West. Since the contract is for 100 years, there are other dated cops in the office, including a blaxsploitation officer from the '70s and someone who could have been from the cast of Miami Vice.
Nick's murderer is pretty obvious from the start, but it doesn't take away from the enjoyment of the book. Author Peter M. Lenkov keeps the story moving at a fast pace. He manages to cram a huge amount of content into the space of four issues without it looking like anything was left out. There are some aspects of the story that I would have liked to seen explored a bit more, but this book serves as a great introduction to this world. Unfortunately, it took Lenkov over 10 years to write a follow up to R.I.P.D., and hopefully we'll see more from these characters now that it's getting the big screen treatment.
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Artist Lucas Marangon brings a frenetic yet off-beat feel to the art of R.I.P.D. There's a very '90s look to some of the characters, especially Nick with his big wavy hair and huge gun. This isn't a bad thing, as he makes it work very well in the context of the story. When Nick and Roy are squaring off against giant demons, you'd expect them to have a gigantic firearm at their side. The main villain, Speck, looks like the demented offspring of Mickey Mouse and a Gremlin. He's not intimidating at all when the book starts, and although his size never changes, he becomes far more threatening as the plot unfolds. It's a complete transformation.
R.I.P.D. is like Ghostbusters mixed with Men in Black but set in the afterlife. It's a fun, although very short read with a lot to enjoy. There are several little details spread throughout the comic that make it worth re-reading. With the movie's release, I'd love to see this turned into a TV show. If Nick is serving a 100 year sentence as an officer of the R.I.P.D., there are plenty of cases you could feature.