The plague-masked murderer returns, this time with a bit more screen/page time. Is it good?
Death Head #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
The issue opens with a couple dudes doing some maintenance work down in the sewer. Since this is a horror comic, you probably know where things are going. But that doesn’t stop artist Joanna Estep from rendering a truly gruesome death scene.
See that one rat out front? That’s what you call initiative.
Meanwhile, Niles is getting treated for the injuries he sustained during last issue’s visit to the creepy abandoned town in the woods. After leaving the doctor’s office, he proceeds to yell at the park rangers over the phone. They respond in a way Comcast only wishes it could to its customers.
At the same time, the little boy who made a ghost friend in the sewer gets an assist from her handling a bully at school (I guess we’re not doing a flash forward like I thought…whoops). The daughter, Maggie, is still trying as hard as she can to exemplify every trope in the ‘rebellious Catholic schoolgirl’ category.
The only sane (and likable) person in this haunted family appears to be the mom, who is struggling to keep them together. Unfortunately, her job looks to be getting a lot harder after her son finds the plague mask and puts it on.
Is It Good?
Am I the only one struggling with the book’s transitions from one scene to the next? It was much better than last issue, but still pretty jarring at times.
Not helping things is how disconnected the various plot threads continue to feel (even with the family all coming together). While the time frame for when things occur has gotten a lot clearer, the way in which the ghost, the plague doctor, the random birds, the horde of rats, and a host of other narrative nuggets all relate to each other is anyone’s guess. There’s a fine line between a good mystery and ‘What the hell is going on?’, and Death Head is starting to tip in the wrong direction.
The best thing about the issue is Epston’s artwork. Not only can she draw some good slasher scenes, but she does a great job with the character’s expressions during their interactions with one another. I also like the atmosphere Zack and Nick Keller are creating along with the seeds of some really good character work (sans Maggie the Walking Stereotype).
It’s enough to make me want to stick with the series, but I’m losing interest faster that Niles is losing his grip on reality.