Graphic Novel Review – The Damned: Vol.1 Three Days Dead
I guess I just keep finding twist to the typical zombie story. This book has a few twists of its own. The Damned takes us thru the life death of Eddie, a tough guy, working for the mafia during the Prohibition Era. Back when double crossing somebody or just looking like you might pull a double cross on someone with power meant only one thing…you sleep with the fishes, or the cement or the worms, ya follow?
During this time big shot gangsters where making a lot of money by having control and a monopoly over the vices people had and the law had prohibited. They where tough days but people still got their share of hoochie and coochie for that matter.
Enter twist number one. Eddie works for one mafia boss who had him killed and three days later decided to get him back. From where you ask? Well from an abandoned warehouse front yard where he laid with a second smile around his neck. Apparently Eddie is the victim of a curse where if somebody touches him when his dead that person takes his place in death. So his boss makes him work for him again on a special job with a very important dateline since it will mean the peace between the mafia brethrens. Why use that term to describe a gang? Well there’s a good reason for that.
Enter twist number two. The mafia is controlled by demons. Yup, just like you are reading. There are two main families the Aligheri’s (Eddies boss) and the Roarkes, that control everything that human enjoy yet they are keeping secrets from everybody but that’s not the only thing they control. There is a third family of demons, the Verlochins, which use to be all about punishment and damnation but got driven out of town by these two families although they still keep involved in the whereabouts of the damned and their property.
The plot of this first book, that compiles six individual comics, lies in that job Eddie is sent to investigate. That job includes tracking down a demon bookkeeper and an important list. During the process he not only encounters betrayal, lying, weird half-breeds, fine looking dames and evil and wicked spirits, but encounters a reason to go further. That reason being that what’s a stake is not control of town but control over the souls of the people in town and one in particular he would like to see released. So it turns into his own personal mission not only to investigate like your stereotypical gumshoe, but solve this confusing situation that’s creating havoc in a temporarily pacified town (that if you don’t count his own murder). Of course in the process he manages to get killed a few times, but I guess that’s when his curse comes in handy. I’m not sure if he would see it the same way.
I have to say that for a one hundred plus pages book, I went thru it quite fast. I read the whole thing in one night. It was easy to follow and the story was interesting. I enjoy a good zombie story and had not read one based in the forties. The way the big bosses where portrayed as demons and how people behaved towards them, not only was amusing but you would think that’s how it really was, considering how fearful people where around the real bosses of the time. The good thing about the story is that you can sort of relate with Eddie, and you get to like him as you read, that’s the first key right there for a good storyline. I’m guessing the character still has a lot of growing to do considering this is just the first book, but so far so good. I can’t say the mystery remained that way all the way to the end. I mean, because of the nature of the story with the two sides fighting and how third parties reacted, I did had a clue where the story was headed, but even so I think it was written very nicely. I guess it doesn’t help the cause that I’ve read my share of mystery novels.
The book was written by Cullen Bunn, original from North Carolina who has some history writing fiction and non fiction. He founded the Undaunted Press and also edited a small press magazine called “Whispers From the Shattered Forum“. His first issue of this book was published in 2006 under Oni Press and he’s still keeping at it, working on the new single issues that will make up Vol.2. For a list of his work you can go check his website.
His partner in crime in this book, Brian Hurtt, got started in the comics with book Queen & Country. Since then he has participated in many other books for Oni and DC as well. This particular book was the first time he did everything from penciller to inker to letterer.
On the other hand Oni Press, founded in 1997 by Joe Nozemack and Bob Schreck, was created to release the kind of comics the owners would want to read. Although now it’s only Joe at the wheel, he keeps fighting to provide an eclectic and diverse line of comics and graphic novels. The company has a great inventory of books and its main office is located in Portland, Oregon. If you are not a big graphic novel follower, yet you are a fan of Stephen Colbert, then you must know of Tek Jansen. If that’s the case, know that Oni is the company that releases the science fiction, comedy issues.
This first volume includes a bonus in the last few pages. It’s a short preview of The Damned that was published in the back of other Oni comics to let people know of the upcoming release. It tells the story of how the book actually starts. There is no way to go wrong with this story and all I can do now is wait for Vol.2.