REVIEW: The Dying and the Dead #4

Dies, died, will die. I just had to put that there because every time I read the title “The Dying and the Dead” it makes me think of the Lutece “Twins”. But in a different universe (perhaps?) Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Bodenheim come back from the dead! Well, at least their captivating series does. We’ve waited, dear friends, for two years and now that day has come.

So putting my excitement aside, let’s recap on this title. A man is given a chance from a god-like civilization of immortal people called the Baduri to save his wife who is dying of cancer. He rounds up his old World War 2 buddies, now aged but still kickin’, to accompany him on his mission just like old times. This man, who his friends still call Colonel, have history with the Baduri but bits and pieces of the story are only being revealed here and there, and every ounce of patience in me is freaking out waiting to see what the hell happened.

Does it still count as spoilers if I tell you what went down in the last issue from two years ago? Ah fuck it. The Colonel and his team killed a member of the Baduri who was sent to accompany them for a while to make sure they have everything they need to retrieve an invaluable ancient artifact for them. I’m not sure how dying works for a race of people who are immortal, but she definitely seem pretty damn dead. The opening of #4 shows what seems to be the Baduri coming to take some revenge for this very deed, but it could be what the Colonel planned all along. The team reminisces and we get some insight to the times before when they were all young twenty-somethin’ year old guys, and the peek into their dynamic is spot-on writing, Jonathan Hickman style.

In fact, you wouldn’t think any time has passed between the previous issue and this one with the way Jonathan writes. It’s such a signature style which writhes between poetic and blunt observation. He gives just enough away to keep the reader captivated without overloading them with story. As with all his works, each character is so well-rounded and distinctive, yet we still feel as if they’re untouchable and behind a glass. Nothing is fully revealed, and maybe the story won’t tie up without any loose ends that just beg to be tugged on. He is writer that creates discussion, and this series is one that begs to be talked about.

Ah, Ryan Bodenheim. Many a late night this kitten has had studying your line work and impeccable detail. This is an artist who is unbreakable, and it’s damn near shameful to say that he’s merely fantastic. Not many artists can touch the level at which he attacks his work with a steadied hand, and I cannot see any other artist illustrating this story as well as Ryan.

Color is a major storyteller in this series, and Michael Garland is a thorough narrator leaving no detail without explanation. Red and blue are a classic combination in conveying emotions and actions, but Michael really takes it a step further. He doesn’t do the predictable with red equals bad, blue equals good. Many panels have both colors working together in harmony, like a mini story in one. He doesn’t drench Ryan’s drawings with predictability. Instead, The Dying and the Dead have a very clear color story and nothing is done with haste or without a clear and concise decision behind it. The first scene of this issue which takes place in a hospital is brilliant, simple as that. One scene notably stands out with its contrast between black, white, and red as a piece of art that could be a standalone print just waiting to be the centerpiece of a room.

The cover of issue #4 goes along the same design theme as the previous issues, and it looks like the series will continue on. I’ve quite liked the stark contrast (I can’t help it, I love contrast okay?!) that just smacks you in the face and compels you to open the book. It really frames what the issue is about, plain and simple.

Dear The Dying and the Dead, lives, lived, will live.

Story: 5 Stars
Artwork: 5 Stars
Colors: 5 Stars
Cover: 5 Stars

Story: Jonathan Hickman
Art / Cover: Ryan Bodenheim

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