Alabaster Graves is a New Orleans based hearse driver that has a bit of a specialty, he transports the bodies of people who may have died under supernatural circumstances, and is trained to deal with all the ramifications that may entail, such as the body rising from the dead and trying to break out of the coffin and such. It’s a time of great danger though, as a necromancer is systematically killing those with mystical talents, and as Alabaster gets drawn into the plot he may find that his destiny reaches further than he could ever have imagined.
Snakes On A Plane was a hell of a phenomenon before its release, its stunt titling surpassed the absurd and practically did the marketing by itself, with Sam Jackson signing on with the specific instruction that the title of the film must not be changed. It also became a merchandising and viral heavyweight, creating huge anticipation for its release.
As we all know, Snakes On A Plane didn’t live up to the hype in either spectacle or absurdity and dropped off the radar as quickly as it rose in popularity, but it sure was a crazy concept that made us sit up and take notice, even if only for a short while.
This month Radical Books release the collected edition of Driver For the Dead, a comics work by Snakes writer, John Heffernan, which has a concept that’s just as wacky. It’s a lot of fun; in a world where witches, vampires, werewolves, zombies and so forth, exist, of course there would be people who specialise on transporting the victims of such creatures, knowing the rules and the lay of the land for any forthcoming eventualities that may occur on the way to the funeral.
The story too is quite intriguing, unfortunately its execution is slightly below par, incorporating such traits as unforeshadowed and overly convenient plot twists, on the nose character names, hefty sections of exposition that bluntly explain the story’s mythology and character history, and an overall feel that it really wants to be remade as a movie.
What’s well worth your hard earned dollar however is the incredible artwork. Leonardo Manco, a veteran of supernatural and superhero comics, won fans over with his atmospheric style on Vertigo’s Hellblazer title but was slightly ‘miscast’ by Marvel when they put him on their more tech orientated War Machine book. Always inking his own work, Manco generally opts for a scratch, inky, almost messy look, which worked especially well for grungy, urban stories. With Driver For the Dead, a more fantastical look at the supernatural than Hellblazer, Radical have teamed Manco up with digital painters Kinsun Loh and Jerry Choo, who in turned have pulled his inking right back and blended it into their own work, creating overall visuals that are simply stunning, and making Manco’s already formidable work look the best it ever has.
It’s not just the style either, there’s plenty of dynamism, clean, easy to follow story telling and well-paced action sequences. Not to gush too much, but in short Driver For the Dead is one of the best looking books currently on the market, and if this is an indication on the direction that Radical Books are headed, I for one am going to be keeping an eye on their future releases, and the big publishers out there should be taking note.
In closing then, It’s a fun concept and a fun ride, slightly fumbled in its writing but more than made up for by its spectacular artwork.
B grade – for originality
C grade – for storytelling
A grade – for artwork
Overall grade – B
If you like horror come back to Fanboy Confidential on October 28th and every day over the Halloween weekend for our Mayhem Halloween Special, where we will be reviewing a new, unreleased horror film every day from the Mayhem Horror Festival, in Nottingham, England.