“The men involved in his wife’s death must now die. All of them.”
That description of this title from the back cover of its collection suggests a purity of purpose that appeals to me. Instead of putting a fancy or even needlessly complicated spin on the standard revenge tale, writer Justin Jordan tells you exactly what you’re going to see in this volume. No more, and no less as we witness former cop Orson Gage murder his way through the bad, bad men who killed his wife during a robbery-gone-bad at the bank where she worked. Gage isn’t exactly a good guy, but he’s a far better person than the grinning, tattooed, scheming psychopaths that he’s up against in this story. He also has help from Rachel, the tough-as-nails girlfriend of the robbers’ tech guy, and his former partner Fletcher who is even more morally compromised than Orson is.
Together the three wind up embroiled in a blood-soaked, bullet-ridden, F-bomb-tossing, narrative where everyone winds up getting what they deserve in the end. For a while, Jordan’s “purity of purpose” works and you’re drawn in by the story’s simplicity and its frankly stunning action scenes. While it’s clear from Jordan’s writing that he knows how to pace these things, it’s Matteo Scalera’s impressively kinetic art that really sells the action and makes it easy to get drawn in by what’s on the page. However, at six issues the carnage, double-crosses, and tough-guy speak eventually becomes wearying and the proceedings run out of steam before they run out of story. Jordan’s “Luther Strode” books didn’t have this problem even though they ran on the same style-over-substance mindset, because the action kept getting bigger, crazier and more cartoonishly inventive as it went on. “Dead Body Road’s” more grounded setting doesn’t really allow for that, and you’re left with the comic book equivalent of the cheesy direct-to-video revenge flick you’ll watch to kill time on a quiet weekend night. It has its kicks, but ultimately doesn’t do enough to make itself particularly memorable.