For Troy Graves, there’s nothing else to do but to leave the past behind and start anew; however, the past doesn’t necessarily go away that easily and quickly catch up.
Scott Ian Lewis’ Death Dream follows Graves, a recently released felon, employed as an embalmer at Sunset Hills Mortuary in Los Angeles. His employer Bishop, however, is doing more than just preparing dead bodies for their funerals – he’s also involved in a money-laundering scheme with a dangerous set of criminals and when that falls through, dead bodies start showing up across the city, including a decapitated councilman. Eventually, they start gunning for Graves and Bishop and Graves will have to use his skills and wits to protect his loved ones and survive.
The plot isn’t that original; a former criminal tries to reform and finds legitimate work, which at first, things go great, but circumstances lead him to go astray and winds up doing the same things that landed him in prison in the first place. It’s a story that’s has been done to death, a-la Ant-Man; however, Lewis gives this archetype story a new sense of life with his characters. Death Dream will have you on the edge as you connect with the characters and their comedic banter and adventurous acts on their journey of survival as they dodge punches, bullets and death.
Graves, rather than a clichéd character as the hardened criminal with no personality, is a fully developed character. He’s intelligent, as he has a degree in “mortuary science with a focus on cultural burial,” can be resourceful in a dangerous situation, particularly when he’s being shot at and knows how to escape unscratched. Even when he has made a terrible deed, the reason he went to jail, Graves manages to be still sympathetic to the reader as he tries to go straight and makes amends with his family.
Bishop is the snarky, jaded, older deuteragonist that “acts” as the “wise” mentor to Graves. Bishop, although responsible for Graves and him almost being killed, has a likeness to him as he provides a cynical yet comedic commentary to the world around him, you can’t help but laugh at what he has to say.
You empathized with the characters as you are shown face-front what they been through, particularly in Graves’ case: the limited options of employment and his attempt to leave the cycle of violence and death, only to come back to it. It’s a problem that many recently released felons face upon re-entering society.
Death Dreamer issue #1 is not a lifeless comic. It has sympathetically developed characters that know how to kick ass and takes names and is filled with bloody, horrific and at times, gory artwork. Give it a read; you won’t be bored to death.