Review: ‘Dead Boy Detectives’ #1

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With two charming and engaging protagonists, “Dead Boy Detectives” #1 is just as eerie as it is endearing. Making their way past the pages of Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman,” the dead boys are back with a brand new mystery. Kicking off to a great start, readers will certainly join in the boys’ supernatural adventure as they wander between living and the dead.

WRITTEN BY: Toby Litt and Mark Buckingham
ART BY: Mark Buckingham
PUBLISHER: Vertigo Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASE: December 31st, 2013

Though Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland died under mysterious circumstances, they didn’t let death ruin their friendship. Rather than enter the afterlife, they decided to stick around as ghosts, solving mysteries in their spare time. Now they stumble upon their latest case, an art heist involving Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.” What was supposed to be a robbery gone horribly wrong suddenly turns into an investigation to their troubled past. Edwin and Charles will have to face something horrible they have avoided for so very long. They will have to solve the mystery of their own deaths.

What I really enjoyed about the narrative is how writers Toby Litt and Mark Buckingham are able to balance the dark themes with a witty sense of humor. As ghosts, Edwin and Charles are hovering over a young girl as her dying life withers away. The boys listen patiently to the monitors as the young girl’s heartbeat begins to fade away. As the plot progresses, Edwin pokes fun at Charles because his crushes always seem to end in disaster. Edwin and Charles are so used to death, they accept the reality that people come and go in their lives.

What I find really surprising is how Litt and Buckingham are able to add a tinge of suspense to the story. Because Edwin and Charles are ghosts, as readers we expect nothing bad to happen to them. It’s the living part that frightens Charles and Edwin to the core. We see glimpses of their past lives and how it was really a horrible mess. The dead boys have lived a better life in death than when they were alive. Charles and Edwin have something to fear, which will affect their dynamic.

In the opening pages, Buckingham delivers an action-packed art heist that will definitely hook readers right in. During the quick-paced robbery, a helicopter swoops in as armed gunmen steal the famous painting. Not wanting the thieves to get away, Edwin and Charles dive in recklessly to get the painting back. It’s a lot of fun just to see Charles and Edwin, who are these punk kids, as action heroes.

My favorite of Buckingham’s illustrations is the splash page of the young girl’s surreal trip to the afterlife. As she lies on her hospital bed, the night sky opens up and starts snowing. With a bright color scheme, Lee Loughridge uses the white hues to make the rats pop out on the snowy floor. The black inks by Gary Erskine highlight the girl and her hospital bed as she is surrounded by darkness.

An enjoyable fun read, “Dead Boy Detectives” #1 is a great introduction for newcomers to the teen sleuths. With a new cast member to keep things interesting, I can’t wait to see what happens between Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland.

4.5/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – Jorge Solis