ďDead Means Dead: Chapter OneĒ
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Mike Norton (p), Craig Young (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: A new chapter begins after the team regroups from their bout with the new Pride, but their recent wounds run deep.
Comments: This issue may not really deserve so many bullets. The fill-in art isnít up to the high standard set by series regular Ariel Alphona or habitual fill-in Takeshi Miyazawa. It may be slightly above the generic manga-lite style Stefano Caselli offers in Young Avengers/Runaways, and Norton makes a notable attempt to keep the large cast recognizable. In fact, his Karolina and her Skrull girlfriend arenít half bad.
But the low-key story might also keep the grade down. This is a down-time issue after an intense conflict that cost the team a cherished member. As everyone licks his or her wounds, we find out how these not-always-mature teens cope with death. The fallen Gert was in fact the voice of reason on the team. Without her, weíre left with Chaseís impulsiveness, Nicoís temper, Karolinaís insecurities, Mollyís literally juvenile nature, Gavinís indifference to human affairs and Victorís guilt in advance of having done some very bad things one day in the future, maybe.
Nope, not enough to depress the grade; there just isnít another book like this on the stands, and even this morose issue is a blast of fresh air in a gloomy, portentous month of speeches in other books.
Those intimate scenes are vital to a character-driven book like this, and we witness several interesting dialogues. Nico and Viktor; Karolina and Gavin; Molly and the teamís somewhat sentient transportation device Leapfrog; and most surprisingly, Chase and one of the fake-Pride members he tracks down for reasons of his own. Norton does pull out the stops for the next threat when it develops, especially on a dramatic two-page reveal.
Jo Chenís haunting cover, of the effervescent Karolina in a black lace mourning dress, perfectly captures the mood of the issue. R.I.P., Gert.
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