The Dead Hand continues this week with issue #4 and things are getting complicated, but that happens with adolescence. A community of spies has been hiding, but their babies have now grown into their teenage years and keeping things secret is becoming hard. This issue delves into one of the daughters of a super spy and how she saw things she shouldn’t have.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“COLD WAR RELICS,” Part Four The Dead Hand melts down as Vil and Ellis get closer to bringing about the end of the world.
Why does this matter?
Kyle Higgins and Stephen Mooney continue to create really good spy comics. This book has a touch of action, but really it’s about the slow boil mystery and intrigue. This issue continues to ramp up the stakes bringing the world closer to annihilation.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue juggles two storylines well, first with Renae and her secret and second with Vil and Ellis as they attempt to thwart a threat they see looming. Higgins does a great job with the dialogue in this issue, keeping it natural and effective. So often characters will remind readers what is going on in a direct way, but Higgins keeps it fresh. Take for example when Ellis (a British spy) meets up with Vig (an ex-Russian spy) — their brotherly relationship comes out in how they speak to one another. Or in another, Renae’s contempt for her mother not divulging what is going on screams loud and clear as a teenager who can’t handle the silent treatment.
This issue has another bio-montage compliments of Mooney featuring Renae and how she grew up. I continue to marvel at how Mooney captures key moments in their lives in beautiful double page tapestries of information. It’s not only cool to look at, but gives readers a lot of detail quickly. This issue largely belongs to Renae and how her knowing something is up only makes things worse. It’s this subplot and how it pushes the parents that make this quite a good drama if it were ever to be adapted to TV. Even when the adults are trained super spies, what can you do when you’re kid disobeys?
This issue also contains a well-drawn shootout by Mooney and the acting is spot on via his facial expressions. I keep wondering what Mooney’s style would look like on a superhero book because he’s so good at rendering a high-def reality.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The looming threat of a nuclear holocaust is getting dragged out a bit. The cliffhanger of this issue offers a potential shift in that regard, but we’re four issues in and the series has tiptoed around this element.
Is it good?
This series continues to be intense, thrilling, and perfect spy comic storytelling. This story adds a domestic element to a highly dangerous situation, further making the story both relatable and highly entertaining.