DRIVER FOR THE DEAD (Radical) Written and Created by John Heffernan. Pencils and Inks by Leonardo Manco. Paints by Kinsun Loh & Jerry Choo. Lettering by Todd Klein. Reprints Driver For The Dead #1 - 3 mini-series. July 2010 – January 2011.
Even though the business model for Radical is to use comics to develop movie properties (the comics act as storyboards for proposed films) – they continue to offer fascinating stories beyond the conventional superhero fare (dark western, modern western, science-fiction, fantasy, horror, crime) and put a lot of effort into the books they publish. It definitely shows, and there is no better example to make that point than DRIVER FOR THE DEAD.
The first thing that will make your eyes widen in wonderment is the incredible art, inks and colors of this book - - it’s almost like looking at photographs because the images and details are that sharp. If you are a fan of the work of Leonardo Manco, you will want to pick up this book for this reason only - - it is the best work that I have ever seen from him. I’ve always admired his art but on DRIVER FOR THE DEAD he seems to take it to another level.
Writer John Heffernan is equal to the task. DRIVER FOR THE DEAD is a scary book, well-grounded in the voodoo of the New Orleans area and chock full of fascinating and grisly details of the various legends, including the infamous Marie Laveau. Heffernan’s fictional characters are equally developed and as the story progresses, he reveals more of their background and history. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would love to see it developed for movies.
In an extended opening scene in Issue #1, voodoo priest and healer Moses Freeman (who bears an uncanny resemblance to actor Morgan Freeman) is called to assist a family of new residents to Shreveport, LA whose only son seems possessed by demons. Freeman’s mannerisms and matter-of-fact manner as he goes about his business make him a fascinating character in his own right. Too bad he dies while performing the exorcism. And that leads into the reason for the involvement of Alabaster Graves and his custom hearse – Black Betty – to transport Freeman’s body to his final resting place.
Getting the transport accomplished will be no simple matter. A local necromancer named Fallow and his legion of resurrected zombies want to get access to Freeman’s body. It will increase Fallow’s strength immensely, as he has been murdering local mystics and attaching their body parts (hands, eyes and tongues) to himself and thereby assuming their powers. Fallow is very creepy and depraved and is one of the best evil protagonists to be created in comics. Before the series ends, we learn of his grisly origins, as well as more background on Marie Laveau and the connection between her, Fallow, Alabaster Graves, Moses Freeman, and his surviving grand-daughter. Along the way Graves has an encounter with another creature steeped in New Orleans lore - - Loup Garoux, the giant werewolf.
If you are a fan of John Constantine/Hellblazer and horror with a dash of humor for good measure, you will want to read this book. Highly recommended, and a favorite of mine.
And, if you’re inclined to go along with my recommendations - - also pick up a copy of MORIARTY TPB tomorrow, which is when I hope to finish and post my review of it.