With “Dead Body Road” #2, Justin Jordan and Matteo Scalera’s story of revenge continues to pull characters together, as Gage finds Rachel and is one step closer to his target. And while the story is overall entertaining, this is definitely a comic where it’s the characters within the plot and the art that are the draws, not the overall concept of the comic.
The basic thrust of “Dead Body Road” is, for now, fairly standard. That’s not an insult, although the phrase is often thrown around. If anything, I feel like “Dead Body Road” #2 is a great example of how at times, the plot can be the least important part of an enjoyable story. To use an old cliche, it’s not always the destination that’s important, but rather it’s the route along the way. Jordan’s hitting all of the required locations along the route of “Dead Body Road,” but it’s the people he’s populated it with that are jumping out and making it fun.
Rachel is a good example of how Jordan likes to take the idea of the woman-in-distress in comics, and then subvert it. When she switches in the blink of an eye from someone who’s whimpering and scared to tough and ready, it’s not only a great character moment but also a bit of a raised eyebrow at the audience. Jordan’s rendition of Rachel is someone who’s strong and capable, instead of the stereotypical female in need of rescuing. She and Gage work well together instantly; two very competent and self-assured people who know what needs to be done in order to survive. I like that this feels more like a partnership than a leader and a sidekick, even as I wish that this arrangement wasn’t still so much in the minority that it needs to be pointed out when it happens.
I don’t lose sight of Scalera’s contributions to “Dead Body Road,” though, because they’re also part of the attraction to this comic. I love how well he nails the shift in Rachel’s face from mock fear the quiet determination, for example. He’s equally good with the fast-moving moments (Rachel giving someone an elbow to the nose is drawn in a way that you can almost see the impact playing out instead of it being just a static image) as he is with the quieter ones (like when the guy with the orange shirt is standing over Rachel with the gun pointing at her). Scalera’s scratchy style looks dynamite, adding a certain level of gravitas that amplifies the drama. He understands body language and how people move, and the end result are some characters who just radiate off the page everything Jordan’s writing about.
“Dead Body Road” #2 continues a journey that started out well last month. Those who don’t like violence should probably steer clear, but if you’re ready for a nice update to an old-fashioned story of vengeance, well, stop on by. Jordan and Scalera are promising a fun journey and then some.