Welcome to Comic Book 

The ADD Blog by Alan David Doane. Trouble with Comics Reviews of comics and graphic novels. Commentary about the artform and industry of comics. Get back to the main page.

Trouble with Comics
The ADD Blog
Flashmob Fridays
A Criminal Blog

Hard-to-find sodas shipped directly to your door! Sodafinder.com.


By Josh Howard
Published by Viper Comics; $14.95 (USD)

A young woman is chosen by fate to become a champion, destined to battle evil, undead creatures. She enlists the help of her friends and is guided by an older man who belongs to a secret group which has occult knowledge of the true nature of the world. Yes, folks, when it comes to wearing its influences on its sleeves, Dead@17 can run, but it can't hide. No, wait, it can't even run.

An almost note-for-note comics reinterpretation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dead@17 is, nonetheless, a lot of fun. Drawn in a style heavily influenced by Mike Oeming and Bruce Timm (with a leeeeetle manga thrown in as well), this is as derivative a book as I can recall, but it still manages to stake a claim on its own identity with energy and style, and besides, they don't make Buffy anymore. And even when they did, well, the comics weren't very good. Dead@17 is good stuff.

Nara is (surprise!) a 17-year old young woman who is murdered one night after conveniently stripping down to panties and belly shirt a night out with her best friend. Howard quickly establishes what a good friend Nara is, and we immediately like her and want to know more. We discover the reason for her murder, and what her true purpose in life becomes when she, well, gets a bit better after being killed.

Howard's writing is surprisingly strong, if firmly stuck in Buffyland. We like the folks we're supposed to like and hiss at the (perhaps a bit broadly played) bad guys. The book's biggest weakness is, and this is unusual for comics, a lot of the male characters look alike and they're not easy to keep track of, which became a problem for me during the book's climax. Howard also has issues with drawing the side of men's heads, as best seen in the very first panel introducing the cop investigating Nara's death. His temple looks like a stone gargoyle jutting out of his head. It's a jarring affectation, a stylistic adaptation from Howard's artistic influences that needs a little work.

But overall the book looks great, the female characters are all unique individuals, and the fact that the book is full-colour (and beautifully so at that) makes it all the more accessible. This is terrific, attractive packaging for an entertaining and quirky genre story. I'd quibble with the fifteen dollar pricetag for a collection of four issues' worth of material (with some nice extras), but the strengths of the story and the quality of the artwork do justify it.

I don't think the Buffy comparison can be discounted here. If you liked that TV series, you're going to very likely enjoy Dead@17. If you didn't, chances are you won't. I did, and I do, and you should check this out. It's good comics, and I am looking forward to reading the sequel. Grade: 4/5

-- Alan David Doane

The ADD Blog by Alan David Doane. Trouble with Comics Reviews of comics and graphic novels. Commentary about the artform and industry of comics. Get back to the main page.

Search WWW Search Comic Book Galaxy