Review: Dead Squad #1

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Publisher: IDW/Darby Pop
Writers: Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia
Art: Kirk Van Wormer and Michael Montenant
Colours: Douglas A Sirois
Letters: Troy Peteri

Dead Squad has a fantastic premise. It’s difficult to talk about that premise without spoiling what happens in the issue, but since the cover art depicts three soldiers getting shot in the heart, you already know what you’re in for. The premise is this: three Delta Force Operatives are pushed into a mission that goes horribly wrong. It soon becomes clear that they have been betrayed by someone close to them, and all three are violently killed. However, when their bodies are picked up by the army’s Advanced Applications Division, it would appear that death doesn’t mean the end for these soldiers, only the beginning.

It’s a great high-concept hook; the problem is, the first issue struggles to live up to it. Most of the issue is spent on a chase scene, which serves as an introduction to our three heroes. At this point the main characters are frustratingly generic: you have Blake, the team leader, the superstitious Hooper and the rookie Shane. There is a clear camaraderie between them, and they certainly very good at their jobs, but there isn’t enough time in this first issue to get to know them properly. This unfamiliarity means the ending doesn’t have the impact that it could have. On the upside, that ending is good enough to make you more than curious as to what happens next.

The first issue sets a lot of wheels in motion, and it’ll be interesting to see how the plot progresses. While some elements of Dead Squad feel a little familiar, the comic does feel primed to enter some interesting thematic territory. To say more would be digging into the story far too much, but Dead Squad may prove to be something more than a typical army action comic. The first issue suffers by having too much to do, but the potential for something great is there.

Despite these initial shortcomings, writers Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia have come up with a doozy of a concept. The art (layouts by Kirk Van Wormer, pencils and inks by Michael Montenant) is solid enough, and does a good job of making a chase sequence in a comic book interesting. Overall, the comic feels a little like The Losers in terms of tone, but has yet to display the same kind of flair. It’s still worth a look, though, and if future issues can make good on the premise, this could be a winner.