Quick Hit - Death Jr.

By | Tuesday, April 10, 2007 2 comments
Double-hit on the ol' blog today to make up for missing Saturday.

I read Death Jr. volume 2 #1 on the plane this weekend. (Digital download from Image's web site, copied onto my PDA. I do so love technology!) Like most of the comics I read, I came to this with pretty much zero fore-knowledge beyond some guesses based on the title.

The first thing I'll say is that it must be, in the publisher's mind, at least moderately successful. Generally speaking, you're not going to publish a volume two if volume one tanked. (I could go off on a tangent about marketing and catching a cultural zeitgeist and such, but let's set that aside for now.)

The basic story is that Death (with a capital D) is basically just your average guy with an almost too stereotypical 1950s sitcom housewife and a kid. He lives in suburbia and drives into work to run Terminal Industries. Death Jr. (known to his friends as DJ) is excited because he's taking a summer internship at Terminal Industries to learn the family business. Dad drives him into work, shows him around, and then drops him off in accounting. There's also a side story about DJ's classmates going to summer camp.

I have to say that I was generally unimpressed. The story is told well enough and the characters are pretty solid and believable, but I just couldn't get into it. I felt like most of the humor was in the basic concept, and everything after that was just padding. It's not that there wasn't any humor in the writing, but it just kind of sat there.

I didn't know this before reading the book, but I gather that Death Jr. was introduced as a video game first. And I think that might be what the book is sufferring from: cross media pollination. Some of the elements that (I presume) worked in the game don't necessarily translate to the comic page, and we're left with a concept that's at least one-generation removed from the core premise. I'm never keen on that type of thing because there tends to be too much watering down of the concept. Because so many people are bringing their take of that concept to the table, they end up compromising the variations in their individual approaches, agree on the broadest generalities and come back to present the original concept without the soul that made it the creator's original vision.

It's not a bad story by any means. But it wasn't really a great one either. I suspect fans of the media property will get a kick out of it, and I'm sure Ted Naifeh fans have already picked it up, but I'm pretty sure I won't be looking for #2 any time soon.
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re: Death, Jr., perhaps you should look for #2- it gets better.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this.