Arriving at the home of a very sick boy, a man named Mose shows a troubled couple that there are more things going on in their house in Shreveport Louisiana than they had been aware of. Revealing the world of black magics and curses around them, Moses performs the acts of a healer for their son, but not without great cost. This cost results in a phone call being made to a funeral home in New Orleans and requesting the services of a driver who works there; A driver who knows all about demons and devils, witches and vampires, and specializes in handling things of this non-nature.
Alabaster Graves is a driver for the dead and now he has to get down to Shreveport for this job he was specifically requested for. Supernatural things are brewing though, and Graves is more than likely to end up at the center of it because of this job.
John Heffernan kind of has two comics going on in this one book. The first one being a creepy horror tale and then the second is more of an action book with horror elements. The two tie-in seamlessly but it still reads almost like two different books because of the tone shift. The beginning (with Mose and the sick boy) is a horror story that delves into elements of everything from EC Comics to any Creepy or Eerie and the like. Voodoo and curses, nasty little reveals showing how the curse was placed, all complete with a bit of a twist. That’s a formula that’s classic, I’m a big fan, and Heffernan does it just fine.
Once the story shifts to the driver Graves, it immediately takes on a much different feel. He has a suped up hot-rod of a hearse complete with a cache of military weapons in it. His knowledge of the supernatural seems to be on par with his knowledge of armaments and how to use them, so throw in some expletives and a suit and you have your Driver For The Dead.
It’s a grisly, graphic and unashamed book and not for the kiddies or those that don’t care for graphic nastiness. For the rest of us ghoul-hounds, it’s a well done bit of action/horror that I found to be entertaining.
My only complaints are over the painted work on the art and the handfuls of cliches thrown around. I’m a fan of Leonardo Manco’s art. In fact, it was the reason I checked the book out in the first place. The credits are listed as Manco providing pencils and inks, and then Kinsun Loh and Jerry Choo handling the paints. I’m just not that big a fan of the painted look in comics and can’t help but wonder what the book would have looked and read like if it were just the Manco art and normal coloring (I think I would have liked it more).
And as for the cliches, whenever I read something that takes place in Louisiana, it becomes a matter of asking myself “How quickly is the word ‘cajun’ going to pop up” or “when’s the mention of voodoo gonna happen”. Now I’ve never been to Louisiana, so I don’t know if I’m off base with that critique or not, but as a reader you just know it’s coming. The voodoo aspect is different because it is a horror story after all, but things suffer just a bit because of a lack of originality in some ways.
Still, Driver For The Dead works as an entertaining read. Also, it’s 45 pages and it flows nicely, so you’re getting your $4.99 worth. With it being the first of only three issues, I think it’s looking to be a good story to check out for the horror fans. I’m giving it a B- with the expectation that business is going to pick up even more in the next issue.