Just in time for Halloween, Death Head returns with its fourth issue. Is it good?

Death Head #4 (Dark Horse Comics)

The Plot

  • Flashback *begins making Wayne’s World sound effect* to 1883, where a pre-ghostified Rosie gives us her horrifying and heartbreaking afterlife origin.
  • Back in the present, Rosie helps the little boy (Bee) avoid some bullies. She later discovers that Bee has a plague mask and completely freaks out.
  • The mom is beginning to go CUH-RAZY!
  • But what about that cliffhanger from the last issue? Well, as it turns out, a large gathering of people wearing gasmasks is not the type of welcoming committee you ever want to meet.

  • My signature move of ‘farting to avoid awkward situations’ was obviously not an option for our protagonist.

  • Their leader accuses the dad of killing the lighthouse keeper (who actually shot himself). Then he turns the gun on him. Fortunately, Mr. Dad has an idea to save his own skin AND perhaps rid himself of the Plague Doctor curse.
  • Unfortunately, the Plague Doctor knows where Mr. Dad’s family is thanks to Bee’s cosplay obsession. Also, he might not be the only physician working in the practice…

Is It Good?

I’m still not completely sold on this series, but this issue was definitely an improvement the last two.

I like that Zack and Nick Keller are starting to move beyond the standard horror tropes into some potentially fascinating material. The town of gasmask-clad survivors and the implication of the issue’s last page in particular give the reader some wonderful possibilities to mull over during the month between issues. It was also nice to finally see how Rosie plays into the bigger picture of the series.

Joanna Estep’s art is good as usual, but she deserves special props for the opening flashback scene. Even with all the crazy/gross stuff that Death Head has already thrown at us, those few pages might have been the most intense sequence of the series. Colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick also deserves praise for excellent fire shading that was needed to pull off the scene.

I was disappointed, however, that we didn’t learn more about the plague doctor, especially after how the issue ended. I’m all for building suspense, but the character doesn’t have a whole lot of fear swagger going for him at this point beyond a cool design. I mean, sure, the guy cut a dude’s head off and has alternate masks that work like an ethereal Periscope account, but he (it?) is getting overshadowed by all the other (very good) narrative threads.

If the Kellers can tie those all together, however, (which it looks like they are going to do soon), then this book might finally have me under its spell.

Death Head #4 Review
The Keller Brothers are finally starting to move away from common horror tropes into some genuinely intriguing territory.Joanna Estep continues to do a great job--the opening pages might be the best of the series.
All these cool narrative threads are starting to detract from the Big Bad, who is starting to lose some of his (design-augmented) mystique.
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