Near Death Vol 1

Lots of internet chatter over Near Death, so I pre-ordered the trade paperback and tore my way through it when it arrived.

Near Death Vol 1 Cover

The critically acclaimed crime series is collected for the first time, featuring exclusive bonus material. Meet Markham, a professional killer who has a near death experience during a botched mission. Determined to avoid ever returning to the Hell he glimpsed, Markham has dedicated himself to balancing the scales. He’s going to save a life for every life he’s taken. And he’s taken a lot of lives…

  • Story: Jay Faerber
  • Art: Simone Guglielmini
  • Colour: Ron Riley
  • Price: $9.99 USD
  • ISBN: 9781607065111
  • Image Comics, February 22, 2012
  • 120-page softcover, full colour
  • Order online: Amazon

A solid crime story about a partially reformed hitman who wants to atone for his sins after dying on the operating table for one minute and meeting those he murdered in the afterlife. Faerber has given the story enough of a familiar feel to bring the reader in while making the story his own. There’s a Human Target feel, the television show not the comic, where the bad guy turns around and tries to do the right thing while still using the tools and skills that put him there in the first place.

Near Death Vol 1 Interior 1

Details are kept lean; we don’t see a lot of the finer slow-moving points, just enough to keep the reader following along and without leaving holes in the story. Effective and elegant. This book is about violence and its uses; our anti-hero has been someone without morals for so long when he’s confronted with decisions there’s no little voice to fall back on.

Character development and dialogue are the right fit. Markham is a bad guy but we still like him because he’s doing bad things for good reasons; the classic anti-hero. Sutton is his vet friend who patches him up, acts as a sounding board and potential love interest all in one. We also meet a lot of supporting characters who fill their intended roles and get out of the way.

Near Death Vol 1 Interior 2

The art completely feels like Sean Phillips’ Criminal series, but a little rougher. I get a little Paul Gulacy in there as well. It’s dark, not only in mood and atmosphere but through shadows and thick ink lines. Guglielmini’s style suits Near Death perfectly. Movement looks awkward at times but doesn’t take anything away from the story. A small ode to Miller’s Wolverine mini-series art below, perhaps?

Near Death Vol 1 Interior 3

Near Death Volume 1 collects the first five issues of the series nicely wraps up the first story arc. For extras the draft script of the first issue with page breakdowns. It’s a solid package at $10 and well worth the investment.

Originally published at Comic Book Daily.