Dead Body Road by Justin Jordan and Matteo Scalera is the best summer blockbuster action movie you will not see on a screen near you. It is a story that is your perfect, straight-up, revenge thriller. It pulls no punches and hooks you in from the very first page on a ride that is almost as fast as the cars within. There is not anything nuanced or hidden, nothing subliminal or cleverly placed within its pages to make you think it is anything but what it states itself to be. It is a tale that takes the revenge genre without reinventing it and puts it in the four-colour world and delivers a solid blow to the primordial part of your brain that not only loves explosions, gunfights and car chases, but one that lets you get behind our hero no questions asked.
The best way to describe this book would be Death Wish with Charles Bronson meets the Fast and Furious. You have your inciting incident – the death of Orson’s girlfriend – which leads to loss, to grief and finally to the end result of rage. And with that rage running through his head, Orson swears death upon those that murdered her and thus our tale of revenge is born. Add to that everything you could ever want in an action movie put down on paper and what we end up with is a book that does not fail to excite and thrill. In today’s comic book world with new series appearing weekly, the market is pretty crowded and you have to stand out. This book does exactly that.
Justin Jordan, author of other fine books like Shadowman, The Legend of Luther Strode and more, creates our tale with equal parts interesting characters and tension filled situations. In Orson, the lead protagonist, he is the dirty cop who was trying to make good when that reason was suddenly taken away from the token bad guys during a heist. Orson is a modern day Paul Kersey, a man who is going to take the law into his own hands to right a wrong even if it costs him his own life. He also has that one-mindedness like the Driver from Faster or Nick Hume from Death Sentence. He is the classic film vigilante that you root for even though you know what he does is wrong. Two wrongs do not make a right is not a phrase that applies in every situation and Orson is out to do what he thinks is right, law or no law.
The rest of the characters are what you would find in any such given movie – the dirty cop, the big bad with his henchmen, the bikers for hire who are merely bodies to be dropped later on, the victim who represents all that was good and the female lead who is both frail and strong simultaneously and represents the light at the end of the tunnel when the picture fades to black. They might be stock characters, clichés you would find in almost any film of this genre, but the trick to making them stand out, to making your tale stand out, is good writing and Justin Jordan provides that in spades.
Matteo Scalera, formerly of Secret Avengers and currently of Black Science, provides the pencils to this action epic and he does some of his best work in this book. The action scenes specifically are some of the best ever put down in a comic book. His use of speed lines in the multiple car chases are extremely effective and throw a spotlight onto something that is not done very well by too many artists and shows that said car chases can indeed be accomplished upon the printed page quite well. Scalera’s character designs are also perfect for this tale. Everyone from Orson to Rachel to the bikers look like they belong in this book. They look downtrodden by life, gritty and realistic and ultimately, believable. Also helping out is Moreno Dinisio on colours and those colours compliment the pencils by Scalera immensely, making those fight scenes and action sequences just pop off the page with incredible energy.
If you need something to read, if you might be looking for something new to try out, then seek this book out. Jordan has been making a name for himself the last few years, much like Joshua Williamson and Matt Kindt among others, and his work never fails to disappoint. If you have been enjoying Black Science from Image Comics and Matteo Scalera then pick this book up to see some of his pencils in a different, non-science fiction light. Together, Jordan and Scalera have put together an irresistible package of a man hell-bent on revenge and it is an absolutely delightful vengeance-fueld ride in every sense of the word.
5 out of 5