Dead Eyes #3 is a comic that has been waiting in the wings for some time now. However, the long over due and rebranded Image Comic finally sees the light of day this week. It is a real world vigilante story packed with action and violence.
With your dubious past closing in on you, and the mob believing you stole their money, what lengths would you go to to clear your name? And how do you reconcile your carefree history with the responsibilities of the present?
A Touch of Character
While his wife settles herself in the hospital Dobbs, aka Dead Eyes, dons the mask and stalks the halls, ready to tackle the mob head on. Each kill brings him one step closer to the money that they believe he stole.
The majority of this issue is spent in the hospital with the central character doing a number of good deeds in different ways. Whether it’s paying for someone else’s access to TV and Internet, or rescuing an injured man for the clutches of the mob, Gerry Duggan, writer, makes sure the reader knows who the good guy is.
The violence and greed that feeds the characters in this comic manifests itself in different ways and Duggan uses the plight of an aging vigilante to examine how these two things affect people in different ways. Dead Eyes is an archetype for costumed characters with the ever present struggle between ‘hero’ and civilian. Dobbs is forced by his previous life to once again wear the mask against the wishes of his wife. It’s far from a new idea but Duggan manages to give it a new spin and make the conflict fresh again.
The action is confined mostly to one location, allowing Duggan to focus the narrative on personal interactions between the characters. The intimacy of the central character and his wife is contrasted with a similar, albeit more disturbing, intimacy that Dead Eye’s shares with the mob.
A Sense of Location
John McCrea uses the space on the page wisely. He adopts a widescreen format more often than not, allowing plenty of room within the panels to add scenery. The detail within the background creates an immersive atmosphere for the characters to inhabit and for the reader to get lost in. The location becomes as important as the action and one feeds off the other with the contradictions of the building mimicking the moral dilemma of the central character.
The setting represents the struggle between life and death, a struggle all to familiar to Dead Eyes in his return to crime fighting. The heavy shadows within the backgrounds creates an imposing atmosphere throughout the comic. An atmosphere which is punctuated by the cold, oppressive coloring by Mike Spicer. A sickly grey/green prevails throughout the hospital adding an element of discomfort to the reading experience.
The urgency of the dialogue is brought out by Joe Sabino’s lettering, adding to the drama of the issue. Each page builds momentum as the action intensifies within the hospital, much in the same way as the narrative builds in the Die Hard movie. The noticeable change in the lettering, with size changes in the font and speech balloons being broken, expedites the motion of the narrative, speeding it up from one page to the next.
The drama builds throughout this issue like a well crafted action/crime story. It centres on the struggles of one character who drifts in and out of the scenery but is never far from the centre of attention.
Dead Eyes is not the fun, adventurous type of vigilante often found within the pages of the Big Two publishers. It’s gritty and realistic, dealing with hard hitting real life problems that are complicated by the destructive obsession of the protagonist.
There are moments of high tension but also occasional scenes of tenderness. Duggan wants the reader to care about this man who’s bad decisions in the past are coming back to haunt him.
After waiting over a year for new material from Dead Eyes, this issue doesn’t disappoint. The final scene is perfectly paced drama, beautifully rendered by the art team.