215 Ink’s latest issue of Deadhorse #6, written by Eric Grissom and drawn by Phil Sloan, wraps up the first story arc for Dead Birds. This comic review contains full spoilers.
What started off as an intriguing, but bizarre bit of storytelling, has finally paid off for Grissom and Sloan. Deadhorse gets a nod for being one of the biggest surprises of the year. Most indie comics coming out from new writers are half-baked stories with no soul or discernible plot.
Grissom and Sloan present a half-baked story, but in more of a messing with your mind sense. There’s a sort of Terry Gilliam like effect the way the story has come to its sixth issue — reminiscent of some of Gilliam’s more Dadaist films like Time Bandits, but with a J.J. Abrams Lost twist to end this first arc.
The last issue of Deadhorse finally spilled the beans regarding the key in William Pike’s possession. Issue six takes the mystery of the key one step further as William must save Edgar and Elise from the mentally-impaired numbskullery of Sasquatch the hitman.
Sasquatch has to be the most awkward and befuddled hitman in the history of hitmen. More likely than not, he’s the missing link between humans and primates. This could be a clue in a running theory about his origins that figures into the end of this arc. Grissom uses a nice bit of foreshadowing when William says, “Every step forward leads to the past.”
After taking a severe beating at the hands of Sasquatch, William manages to free Edgar and Elise, but they wind up only able to escape through an underground water chamber. Concurrently, Charles Gadsworth cooks up another plan to obtain the key by summoning a somnambulist (a sleepwalker or sleeper agent for the uninitiated).
This leads to the moment of truth as William and the gang happen upon the entrance to a doorway vault with ancient Sumerian writing on it, which is inscribed with the phrase “The child is father of the man.”
Grissom plays the obscure reference card this issue by throwing in a little Shakespeare too for those readers keeping score as the group sees the laws of physics defied by water flowing upwards. Essentially, William has found the beginning of the world.
Adding to the mystery is a return to Trapper’s Keep where one stoner-like character named Casper, happens to be much more than he appears. It begs the question of whether he’s a spook, which would tie his name in nicely for symbolism. Apparently, he’s talking to William Pike’s father on the phone as the story finishes with a new mystery.
Just when Grissom and Sloan answer a bunch of questions, they shift the plot in a Lost like fashion. Now there are even more questions left than answers. That is a tricky way to roll a plot. Soon enough, readers will find out if Deadhorse is a one-trick pony or ready for the rodeo. Either way, it’s been a white-knuckle ride so far.
One thing Grissom and Sloan understand about ongoing stories is that there must be something to keep readers coming back for more. Unfortunately, Deadhorse won’t be back until next year. This should leave readers with plenty of time to re-read the Dead Birds story arc to see if they can spot the numerous clues Grissom and Sloan have stockpiled throughout the dialogue and artwork.