The Dead Lucky, the latest series from Kyle Higgins et al.’s sentai-inspired Massive-Verse, is set on a dystopian, near-future earth. Homelessness and rents are sky high, crime rates are going up, and San Francisco is in chaos. Unsurprisingly, in an increasingly corporatized world, the solution is more privatization.
In the words of retired soldier Bibiana Lopez-Yang, “Like a knight in shining armor, and for a nominal fee, tech wonder company Morrow has stepped in to save us all.”
That safety comes in the form of Morrow’s ‘guardian bots,’ the only thing standing between the good people of Chinatown and all-out invasion by the notorious Salvation Gang. With Morrow’s executives pressuring resident shop owners to flee and relocate elsewhere, however, it’s not at all clear which outcome is worse – surrendering to the police state or surrendering to an armed gang. Maybe there’s no difference. Neither one seems to be objectively ‘good’ or objectively ‘bad,’ but they sure as hell want something.
There’s a surprising amount of exposition and world building packed into this debut issue, which writer Melissa Flores handles adeptly. Curtesy of an ingenious literary device, ‘Bibi,’ as she’s affectionately known, narrates events in real time, adding additional context. She has this quirky habit of talking to herself. Thus, her ‘internal monologue’ is spoken aloud, shared organically with the reader, who soon becomes her confidant, supporter, and fan.
In the opening scene, for example, Bibi breaks the fourth wall, turns directly to the reader, and says, “It’s funny. Over there, all I could think about was coming home. But whatever ‘home’ was doesn’t exist. Not anymore.” It’s a simple, but profound introduction, indicative of how Bibi must bridge the liminal space between worlds—physically and emotionally.
Culturally, she’s multi-racial. Professionally, she was trained as a soldier, but she no longer serves in the army. And the Chinatown where she lives is heavily contested, a geographic No Man’s Land.
Visually, French Carlomagno’s line work is energetic, bold, and dynamic, driving the story forward while upping the stakes. His compositions are cinematic, richly detailed, and give us a great sense of place. The Salvation Gang’s entrance, for one, is as good as it gets. With it’s sugar skull motif and bold geometric patterns, Bibi’s power suit—designed by Italian artist Federico Sabatini—is also dope as hell.
Meanwhile, with lots of red and deep purple, yellow and neon orange, turquoise and aquamarine, Mattia Iacono’s eye popping colors look like Lisa Frank ran wild on Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner set. It’s Chinatown with a jolt of color, awash in sunshine and light pollution. Even the twilight sky pops. You can hear the buzz of neon lights and feel the prickly steel crackle of electricity in the air. Everyone seems to be spoiling for a fight, regardless of who it’s against.
Wrestling with PTSD, survivor’s guilt, and adjustment disorder, Bibi is at the beginning or her hero’s journey. At the helm of her giant mech, Ghost, announcing to armed marauders, “This is not a drill,” it’s easy to say she’s a badass. She totally is. But she’s also much more nuanced—flawed, relatable, tender—than a typical superhero. As she tells us right up front, “I’m not a soldier anymore. And I never was a hero. I’m just here.”
We don’t really know who she is, much less what she wants, but it’s impossible not to be on Team Bibi. She’s one of the most likable, relatable, and just plain fun protagonists you’re going to find anywhere.
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