Dead Squad #2 presents readers with an interesting concept. If done well, it could be a strong, thoughtful read that questions the matters of life and death. Or, you know, it could be about three guys with guns who want to kill people.
The official description from IDW:
Betrayed by their superior officer, Blake, Hooper, and Shane find themselves unwitting pawns in a treasonous game—not to mention stone-cold dead. Even after being revived by cutting-edge technology, they remain prisoners… of the U.S. government. But a life sentence in Leavenworth is the least of their worries since the nanobots keeping them re-animated have a short shelf-life, giving our heroes just 30 hours to set things right… 30 hours to make their resurrection permanent.
I’m not saying I don’t like Dead Squad. I do, but I find it squanders one of it’s best assets. This issue sets up the premise in more detail and gives us a closer look at the characters. Unfortunately, it focuses on the bland cast too much and overlooks the death and life parts.
For the most part, the writing treats this ’30 hours to live thing’ as a simple ultimatum; get the job done in X amount of time, or die. Heck, isn’t that the plot of Speed?. The only difference here is that the cast also can’t be injured or killed very easily. When writers Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia drop notes like that, it’s hard to fear for the three protagonists. It basically establishes a set of restrictive rules that instantly remove the core cast from most dangers – so where’s the tension?
As far as the artwork goes, this is a okay issue to look at. The artwork doesn’t exactly stand out but, then, neither does it have anything to stand out with. Micheal Montenat has skill with his pencils, but everyone’s a muscle bound spec-ops soldier or a potential sex-symbol female. The colours are varied to a certain extent, but Douglas A. Sirois makes a concious effort to stay away from bright and vibrant tones.
All in all, this isn’t a bad second issue but it doesn’t look good for the future. If it embraces its own elements and tries something different, there is hope, but it’s not in this issue.