Comic panel from Two Dead. Happy New year.

Two Dead By Van Jensen and Nate Powell, 256 pgs.

Apr 06, 2020

Little Rock, Ark. in the 1940s was plagued with racial inequality, the mafia, and corrupt cops. Gideon Kemp is a newly christened police lieutenant who is terrified of using his gun. He is tasked by the mayor to find any incriminating evidence against a disgruntled detective. Abraham Bailey is the aforementioned disgruntled detective who is constantly yelling, way too quick to pull a trigger, and is haunted by his dead police partner. He is obsessed with taking down a mob boss who also practices dentistry as a hobby and torture method.

Meanwhile, across town, Jacob Davis is a war veteran who runs an amateur police force because the white folks in the actual police won’t touch anything on their side of the tracks. Jacob’s brother Esau is working with the sadistic dentist mentioned above and isn’t necessarily evil, just trying to make ends meet in a society that won’t let him do it legally.

This book is a heavy-hitting piece of crime drama filled with everything gritty you would see in a Scorsese mob movie. Car chases, backstabbing, political corruption, casual racism, and… the creepy dentist thing.

And like most of Nate Powell’s books, the artwork is amazing: beautiful ink on paper drawings that make each page give you an eyeball massage. With the help from colorist Erin Tobey, there were some tea bags used in the coloring for the comic to give it an antique-like pulp feel.

I mentioned in my review for Powell’s Come Again in Razorcake #114, that he has the most original and weird lettering seen in most comics. Lots of big shaky words that Blambot™ could never recreate along with some very creepy cursive writing.

My one complaint was that ending left a bit to be desired. But the book is based on real events, so I guess that’s how real life just goes. Quick and abrupt. Two Dead is an insightful, exciting and eye-popping piece of work. I’m stoked to see what Jenson and Powell do next or if they will give someone the rights to turn this into a movie. –Rick V. (Simon And Schuster)