Al Ewing and Simone Di Meo’s far-flung futuristic tale of dead gods adrift in space makes landfall as dead weight from BOOM! Studios.
The concept is nothing short of genius: a future world—albeit one lacking proper development in this premiere issue of We Only Find Them When They’re Dead —in which various “autopsy ships” descend upon the lifeless bodies of gargantuan gods drifting across the vacuum of deep space. The story seems to follow Georges Malik, captain of the Vihaan II in the year 2467. The opening scene finds the Vihaan II on an intercept course with the body of one of these gods they only find after they’ve expired. Upon arriving, we are abruptly catapulted into a world of black markets and spacecraft rivaling one another for first dibs on the cosmic carcass, and we soon discover the true motives behind these ships in this ambitious bit of high concept, speculative sci-fi.
Now, being “abruptly catapulted” into the action of a story is all fine and good and certainly optimal, but only when the rules of that world are fully understood by the reader. And even if they’re not, the storytelling needs to be at such a level that allows the reader to easily follow the action, exposition, and explanations while the action unfolds. We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #1 flounders in each of these departments, giving way to a confusing mess of ships, stars, and utter confusion.
It’s really the execution that fails to totally immerse the reader’s imagination in this issue, as well as pacing that pushes out too much, too soon. The story gets bogged down by talk of “claims” and other technical terminology and job titles amid the action that’s beautifully rendered by Di Meo, with color assists by Mariasara Miotti. But most of the reader’s time will be spent drifting about in the expanse of 25 pages in a futile attempt to figure out who’s who in an epic opening scene that, sadly, falls quite flat. As far as characterization goes (and again, bearing in mind this is a first issue), there is little to none in the main players; they are quickly introduced and overtaken by jagged paneling that only adds to the confusion. There is nothing there to meaningfully connect us to any of these characters to allow us to care about reading further. More so, there are too many characters introduced in this short span of time.
All that said, I do think that We Only Find Them When They’re Dead could be a series that will require a few issues lead time to build up the speed it needs to properly hook its readers. But when you consider the many other speculative fiction stories that have graced the panels of comics by Image, Dark Horse, and yes, even BOOM! Studios, that do work in enough characterization to capture our imaginations, minds, and hearts by the close of a first issue, We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #1 gets left behind in the (space) dust and simply doesn’t stack up against similar intergalactic tales.
Al Ewing (W), Simone Di Meo (A), Mariasara Miotti (Colour assists), Andworld Design (L) • BOOM! Studios, $3.99
Review by John T. Trigonis