by Christopher Sebela, Chris Visions and Ruth Redmond
Dead Letters has been aiming high since the first issue. Since it opened with a chase scene, the story has kept the momentum relatively high throughout. Readers have learned that this story takes place in the afterlife, that the characters are in some middle-world and that there are rival factions that have been warring for a long time. As the second issue came to a close, Sam was taking gunfire as he witnessed a man named Charnel use a weapon that shouldn’t exist and is capable of something terrible.
Sam must figure out his next play. Jones and his men will be coming for him next and he has put himself on the wrong side of a lot of people very quickly. Determined to solve the puzzle of the missing girl Beryl, Sam has run straight into the middle of this massive war. He has already been beat up and shot. Charnel looks to be out for blood, or whatever a killer in the afterlife might be seeking, but fortunately for Sam, Jones appears and Sam is able to rationalize with him. It is interesting writing by Sebela, but he finds a way to make a convincing case through Sam that this scenario was all intended and it puts Jones in a great place to get one over on Ma. Sam’s serpent tongue works on Jones, but readers might not be so moved by the seemingly convincing speech.
The story continues as Jones makes his way to Ma’s place to send a message before making his way home. While the issue is not oversized, it is a slow read. Much of the pages are filled with Sam’s narration. He reflects on himself, this place, the case, the war and many other things. It provides some insight but it also slows the pacing of the story. In addition, within this one issue, Sam interacts with three different individuals that are heading up their own faction or plan. In each situation, Sam makes a play as though he is really working for them. Added to the amount of narration, the number of conversations in this issue weighs it down. Sebela may be setting up for some interesting dynamics down the line as Sam runs into trouble keeping up appearances for so many different groups, but it does take its toll on the momentum of the story.
At one point, in one of many exchanges, a character makes mention of Sam not belonging. There is some indication given to his character being different in some way, and that it is possible that his inability to remember dying is connected. Sebela may have a bit too much written on the page in issue 3, but he still continues to plant very intriguing seeds. Chris Vision’s puts out the best cover of the series so far. The imagery on display is gorgeous and it’s coloring is just as impressive. Ruth Redmond works with Vision’s style quite well and the two combine for some really fantastic pages. Their loose style, though, does work against the story in a few moments when the panel work makes a sequence a bit of a challenge. Overall, though, the art is quite gorgeous. As the story moves forward, the final pages promise for some interesting moments to come in the Dead Letters universe.