Driver For The Dead!

Seatbelts frighten the life out of him.

What was I expecting with this comic? Not a great deal, to be honest. It was published by a company I knew very little about, and by a writer (John Heffernan) I’ve never heard of. But, I did like the title ‘Driver For the Dead’. It sounds like the sort of thing that is going to be so dreadful its got to be a comic classic. One of my favourite DVD’s is a film called ‘Flight of the Living Dead’, so you can imagine my joy in finding a comic which may be ‘The Transporter’ mixed with ’28 Days Later’.

But this comic isn’t all silly! It’s Absolutly fucking Terrifying and absolutely fucking Awesome. Straight away we are thrown into the middle of an ‘Exorcist’ style possession of a little boy in the middle of Alabama, with an old voodoo witch doctor man who looks a load like Morgan Freeman (he is even named Moses Freeman) turning up to save the day and exorcise the child. Immediately we are thrust into a world of african curses, cats nailed to walls, voodoo dolls and children vomiting up snakes. It is full on creepy stuff! Then as soon as we think this Moses Freeman chap is going to be saving the day and being this mysterious ‘Driver for the Dead’, he ends up getting chomped in half by a lizard monster demon, and as he chokes to death on his own juicy gore, he hands over a business card to the parents of the possessed child.

The name on the card?



Hooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Man! Suddenly, this sneaky little comic bursts into overdrive! Alabaster Graves drives a hearse that looks like it has been modified by BA Barracus, for the Ghostbusters, using Iron Man’s technology. Its got turbos, and huge exhausts and an engine so big you can barely see out the front windscreen, with a skeleton acting as a front grill, and a huge tombstone acting as a spoiler. And this little beauty is called, rather sweetly ‘Black Betty’.

We soon learn Alabaster is no ordinary undertaker. He undertakes the jobs that no one else would want to undertake ( ahh haha!). We meet him as he is racing to get the body of a vampire’s victim buried before sundown. He has exactly 4 minutes to behead and then bury the victim in a churchyard. The churchyard is exactly 5 minutes away. Naturally,  all hell breaks loose.

And naturally, since this is a comic, the ‘Black Betty’ also doubles as a mobile weapons cabinet, so Mr Graves shoots himself a vampire to death using incendiary bullets to burn the flesh off its chest exposing the heart, then high velocity rounds to pierce it. FUCK YOU TWILIGHT!!

From then on Alabaster Graves is hired to transport the body of Mr Moses Freeman to his final resting place, with the late Mr Freeman’s niece for company, but since Moses is such a powerful sorcerer, all of the magical community are out to get his body and consume his abilities! And Away We Go!

This comic is so stupid, and so exciting, and so frightening and so fun that I just couldn’t turn it down. It took me a couple of days before I managed to hunt down a copy, which is the first issue of a 3 part series by Radical Comics. ITs an independent comic company, so it is a little more expensive an issue at $4.99 (so about £3.80  I think I paid in the end) than I usually would spend on a story I had no idea about, but the good thing about Radical Comics is that they seem to publish all their issues in a sort of magazine format rather than as a comic. By this I mean rather than being printed on usual comic paper, it’s all done on nice glossy magazine style pages, all good and thick, so it feels like your holding something big and professional in your hands. It’s also a bigger page count than you can usually expect from the average mainstream comic, 58 glorious full colour pages, compared to the usual 22! And its all nicely square bound like a proper magazine, with a spine and everything, rather than just a page folded in half & held together with a staple.

It’s a quality read in every sence. Particularly considering the best sense of all, Sight! This book looks amazing! Luckily, I do know the artist, Leonard Manco from other comic series, mainly from his work on Marvel’s ‘Blaze of Glory’, and his work here is extraordinary. It has a fully real life style, but with the otherworldly magical extras rendered in a serious and believable way, about as close as I can describe it is that its like watching Jurassic Park for the first time. It’s obviously not real, but by god this monster madness is believable. You can see people have shaving rashes, and all their suits are threadbare, and sunken eyelids from nights awake, and then you get giant snake monsters and floating green witches leaping out of trees, it’s just magnificent escapism excitement.

I always feel like I should support these independent publishers work, and like them despite the quality of the comics they put out, but in this instance Radical  Comics have put out a work of art which is superior to mainstream Mega-Publishers like Marvel and DC in every way. For $1 more, they have produced a comic 250% bigger than the average, on better quality paper, with better quality art, with a more interesting story. They have beaten any comic publisher in almost every way, yet still I doubt if this comic was even noticed by most comic shop regulars.

Well, fuck ’em! That means there is more left for me!


Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 10:56 pm  Leave a Comment  


Flaming Fists of Fury!


So here it is! The final issue in the four-part series that has been keeping me on my toes for the past quarter of a year, and what a ride it has been! We have been from the mountains of Norway to the depths of the Mediterranean Ocean, to the skies of New York, all to punch up a bunch of nutcase Nazis! So what happened this month?! Shitting hell, it turns out Baron Zemo is just a pseudonym used by the head of the Nazi research program, carried on by each successive victim of the ZEMO compound, and the latest victim is dear ol’  Tony’s dad! 

Then, as Tony gets smacked about like a ragdoll by Nazi robot ‘Arsenal’ its revealed his mechanical heart is finally giving up, with its dropping power levels flashed up in each panel and dropping steadily with each Iron fist to the face of the SS! Then Bang! Pepper Potts is smacking a lady up in the head, and Tony transforms into a damned great motorcycle, and they smash out of the castle onto a zeppelin! Naturally its on from there to victory via more jetpack fun, oricalchum trident lightning vs Zeppelin fleet experiments and submarine rescues. And then right as we think it’s all over, Tony is called in to face the one and only Dr. Doom!!! 

Writer Scott Snyder and artist Manuel Garcia have managed to achieve the impossible and have looked into the imagination of a 13-year-old boy, and pull out the most perfect comic book story of all time. And make no mistake, any one who reads comic books has the brain of a 13-year-old. Its 22 full colour pages of enormous robot suits punching at each other, while everything flammable blows up, and the only victims are Nazis, so it’s all absolutely guilt free! And man, the art is utterly superb! There is one panel I was looking at, and I couldn’t work out why it was so evocative and harrowing, and then I  realised what it was. While all the explosions and chaos is going on, Tony Stark has red rimmed and blood-filled eyes, a tiny detail added by the colourist to show that this man is fighting in a suit of armour while in the middle of a massive heart attack, yet still standing! 

The whole series has been coloured with these sort of brown and yellow sepia tones, so the blood and the fire stand out as these great bright streaks of vibrant colour from the page, and the red-headed Pepper Potts is similarly depicted as bright, clear and flawless, the literal clean bright center of each panel she is in, ready to carry Tony through despite is rusty, dented and lumbering suit and failing heart. So good on Marta Martinez (colourist extraordinaire) for brilliantly capturing the flavour and the feeling of a 40’s pulp adventure mag. 

Man Adventures!


I’m terribly sad this mini-series is over. Its been a jolly little indulgence in a sea of overly serious and overly self-important series. With every issue, every page, and every panel, this story knew it was a comic book. A little ten minutes of escapism with robots and fantastical lands and impossible escapes and happy endings. It appealed to the 13-year-old inside me, and I know I will read, and re-read this series, and it will be always as exciting and dynamic and enthralling as every classic adventure story should be.

Published in: on August 4, 2010 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment