Deadhorse, the ongoing series from 215 Ink by writer Eric Grissom and artist Phil Sloan, keeps pushing the boundaries of quirkiness. There are some extremely mild spoilers.
William Pike, Deadhorse’s apprehensive protagonist, seems like a ringer for Conan O’Brien as he makes his way to Trapper’s Keep. Unfortunately, the bus he’s traveling on has been overturned by the comical strong man Sasquatch. Grissom has already introduced some surreal elements to his story including a hand puppet, so a dude dressed up like Sasquatch doesn’t seem like much of a stretch.
Keeping with the bizarre, Sasquatch speaks like a caveman and manages to lose his prey through an act of buffoonery. This allows William and his new traveling companions the opportunity to ship off while Sasquatch is out cold. Grissom has some fun with the dialogue in this part of the story, keeping the tone light despite the beyond strange events unfolding.
Of course, the mystery deepens as Pike has a key to a mysterious box in his custody that is the object of desire for one Charles Gadsworth, the antagonist of this story who makes a great composite of Citizen Kane and C. Montgomery Burns. Grissom works in a flashback that chips away at another layer of the mystery surrounding the key, the box, and the city of Deadhorse without giving away much of anything.
Individually, the scenes from each part of the story work really well with a cinematic feel for letting the images tell some sort of symbolic story. Where it falls flat is the lack of structure connecting each part of the story. Grissom certainly has a design at work for what’s happening in the story, but it’s not translating to the reader in a recognizable way.
Having said that, this issue of Deadhorse has its charm by developing a particular mood that speaks to the uneasiness of William Pike’s character as he travels a mysterious road to help keep a certain evil from being given birth. In some ways, it is reminiscent of Frodo’s journey to safeguard the ring until it can be destroyed in the molten hell of Mt. Doom.
Phil Sloan’s art continues to grow in style as he worked some solid storytelling in with his illustration. His visual cues help hold together this non-linear story, keeping it from becoming to disjointed or uneven. A particularly noteworthy scene was Sasquatch’s flashback working into the present as the mask serves as the transitional cue.
Also, the spoof band interview with Handsome and the Doctor at the end was a funny addition to the story ending as their song worked its way through the story in strange places. Grissom wrote it in the style of the typical rock journalist interviewing some pseudo indie rock group that defies tradition and genre. Look no further than the latest issue of Rolling Stone to see the pretentious interviews Grissom mocks.
Overall, I grade Deadhorse #3 a solid B for keeping my interest despite the fragmented narration. Phil Sloan gets an A- for extending his visual storytelling abilities with some interesting imagery.