Story: Ryan Parrott
Art: Evgeniy Bornyakov
Colors: Juan Choi
Letterer: Charles Pritchett
What They Say:
If the dead could come back for just one night, would we want them to?
Meet the Haskins, a seemingly normal suburban family, as they prepare for the annual macabre holiday known as “Dead Day” – when the deceased rise from the grave from sunset to sunrise. Some come back to reunite with family and friends, others for one last night of debauchery, still others with only one thing on their decomposing mind: revenge.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
I’ve had mixed results with the works that Ryan Parrott has put out but I’ve consistently found the concepts he’s working with to be interesting, which makes me come back for more. With Dead Day, I’m hopeful he’s got the bigger picture nailed down because it’s an intriguing opening that we get here with all of the setup and character material. Parrott’s working with one of my favorite artists that works on AfterShock titles a lot with Evgeniy Bornyakov and we get some great results here of suburban life on Dead Day. The mixture of teenage drama, adult issues, and the rituals revolving around the holiday are really well presented as is when things start to go down and we get our first tastes of the darker material. There’s potential to go really hard and grim here and the opening salvo delivers the right layer of it.
The premise is that for a few times over the last several years, there’s a day when the dead come back up from the grave known as Dead Day. Nobody knows why exactly or the exact date, though a group/cult known as the Revivalists all seem to know when it gets close and can pin it down. Most of those that come back visit family and are just happy to see them, though more and more families ask the dead to wear a mask or something since they are actually dead and decaying. Others are more wary of the dead, such as soldiers that never know what part of their past may come back for obvious reasons. We see a mix of both as sunset hits toward the end of this opening chapter and understand how the holiday works, including a great bonus couple of pages that describe it in a pamphlet-like form to good effect. It’s the kind of event that you can imagine was shocking at first but is now kind of manageable as it enters its fourth or fifth time happening.
The character side of this focuses on the Haskins, which is your standard four-person family with the husband and wife who have two kids, a boy and a girl. There’s a few years apart between the kids with the youngest, Jewel, at six and curious about the day and a little apprehensive. Through them we get to have the basic questions answered with how it all works and you can see how the son is going to be drawn into the night because teenage hormones. The more interesting storyline involves the parents as she’s leaving for the night to, as it turns out, meet either an ex-husband or ex-fiancee who died and they’re intent on a little revenge. I loved the way the book hinted that it was almost a secret tryst, and you can see why her husband isn’t keen on this, but it comes across well as we get into it more and see touches of the past. It’s an interesting angle to work with for a family drama.
Dead Day does come across as a kind of zombie story at first just by the artwork but as you dig into it more there’s a lot to be intrigued by. Ryan Parrott is good at that so I’m not too surprised by it. With this focused more as a family drama with discernible stakes, I’m hopeful that it remains the main focus as opposed to discovering the truth about Dead Day because I like the idea of that just remaining a mystery, ala The Leftovers. Bornyakov has been consistently strong with all of their projects and this is no exception, leaving me excited to see what else they’ll bring to the table with the designs.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: AfterShock Comics (Kindle Version)
Release Date: May 27th, 2020