Announced at last year's Comic Con, "Dead Body Road" was marketed as a creator owned revenge mini-series. The creative team consisted of Justin ("Luthor Strode") Jordan and Matteo ("Indestructible Hulk") Scalera. The latter has since seen his name attached as the regular penciller of Rick Remender's ongoing "Black Science", making for a year with very strong presence by the artist.
Most of the appeal of his collaboration with Jordan is visual, as his talents lend gravity to the fast-paced, pulpy tale. The gritty, heavily inked textures are somewhat reminiscent of Sean ("Punk Rock Jesus", "The Wake") Murphy's work, and coupled with Moreno Dinisio's colors make for a well-rendered, gritty tale purely defined by physicality.
The art team helps relax the readers into a seemingly familiar revenge scenario, giving them time to warm up to the way the plot navigates the cliches. The well paced action scenes which start the story filled with desperate, sweaty mercenaries quickly capture the reader into Jordan's uniquely inventive pulp rythms. His laconic, gleefully sadistic characters never stay still and quickly arrive at a conflict that suits each of their paranoid greed-motivated psyches.
Gage, the nominal protagonist slowly progresses into a man with a morality that goes beyond the familiar revenge motivation, while the book easily becomes something of an ensemble piece. By introducing Rachel and Orson, the writer manages a very unhealthy dynamic, that fuels the story's constant need for conflict.
Thankfuly, the whole creative team is onboard to illustrate the successive action scenes, as the characters opt to use violence in every possible instance. Even when professing aid to one another, they are either openly threatening each other, or defer to resolving the argument after a bout of violence.
What quickly comes to define the book's pages, densely realized in black washes, which seem particularly effective despite the medium's traditional problems when it comes to depicting vehicles in motion as related to one another. Not every beat is as clear as the other, but in general the thrill never lets up as the tightly plotted story propels from one set piece to another.
The central mystery, relating to the robbery whose aftermath "Dead Body Road" concerns itself with is slowly broadened to comment on the aforementioned morality of Gage, as the writer tries to instill a sense od nobility and character progression that distingishes him from the cutthroats and psychopaths he is set against and seems to understand all too well.
Most importantly, the story comes to a close in a bloody showdown whose results for once seem earned, as there persists a sense that something was accomplished beyond the customary McGuffin. Despite the inventivness of their take on the tropes, the creators manage to instill a humanistic viewpoint right at the center of their bleak revenge scenario, turning "Dead Body Road" into an actual story that goes beyond the typical list of cliches which usually characterizes similar narratives. Coupled with outstandingly raw and visceral artwork, this tale of grinning mercenaries set against each other in a bleak landscape on the brink of civilization certainly fulfills the reader's urge for a tense and dramatic revenge narrative in a medium that all too often employs the more fantastic elements in such stories.