Songs for the Dead #1 Review
Created and Written by Michael Christopher Heron & Andrea Fort
Art by Sam Beck
Letters by Deron Bennett
Review by John Dubrawa
One of the many benefits to occasionally wandering outside the mainstream when it comes to reading comics is there’s a good chance at finding something pleasantly surprising, and Songs for the Dead #1 is one such treat. Creators Michael Christopher Heron and Andrea Fort, along with artist Sam Beck, craft a simple tale of swords and sorcery that, as far as first issues go, succeeds on every level. There’s enough intrigue in the larger world to keep a reader hanging on for dear life in anticipation for the next issue, but at the same time, the issue is a substantial read all on its own. I can’t think of more to ask for from a first issue than what Heron and Fort give readers here.
So often these kinds of inaugural issues contain extended setups for the protagonists’ journey that inevitably leads to an abrupt ending that short-changes the reader, but not here. Heron and Fort introduce us to Bethany, our necromancer with a thirst for adventure, set her off on an important quest to retrieve a missing boy, and then find a satisfying conclusion to that mission by the issue’s closing panels. All within 30 pages, too, so take that, all other comics. Afterward, Heron and Fort leave us not with a cheap cliffhanger to force readers to come back next time but instead the possibility to expand on this issue’s concepts and ideas and explore this world further. We want to come back for more.
An added benefit to wanting to come back for more is to get to see Sam Beck’s art work each issue. There’s a serious Faith Erin Hicks-esque quality to her work here that allows the issue to maintain a whimsical yet grounded tone throughout. Her character designs feel right at home with Songs for the Dead’s medieval esthetic, producing figures that feel rough and tumble while also being strong and majestic. Every color at Beck’s disposal is used to its full effectiveness as well, resulting in a comic that looks every bit as good as it reads. Now give me more, please.
BUY! Most first issues are content with just a taste of what is to come, but Songs for the Dead feels like a tasty meal. There’s an actual conclusion to this first part of the story, which makes this a wholly satisfying read even if no more issues were to follow. Thankfully, however, this is only the beginning, and creators Michael Christopher Heron and Andrea Fort give readers plenty to ponder about the world of Songs for the Dead that are just begging to be explored.