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Driver for the Dead #1 (of 3)

By Andy Frisk
June 19, 2010 - 23:18

Moses Freeman is a healer, which means he’s part hoodoo expert, white magic practitioner, and exorcist. When he finally meets the demon that might be the end of him, he asks for Alabaster Graves, Driver for Delacroix Funeral Home in New Orleans, Louisiana. Graves is no ordinary hearse driver though. Graves is an occult expert, vampire slayer, witch killer, paranormal ghostbuster, and driver of the creepiest, most tricked out, and most likely fastest, hearse ever built. When Graves learns about the demonic necromancer Fallow (the supernatural baddie behind several devilish events around New Orleans) will he likely meet his end as well?

Driver for the Dead from Radical Comics is horror/action done right. Set in the southern spook capital of the US, New Orleans, Driver for the Dead looks to make great storytelling use of not only New Orleans’ fabled voodoo/hoodoo myth and mystery, but vampires, demons, witches, and a whole assortment of things that go bump in the night to weave a tale about a most unique and unlikely protagonist. Alabaster Graves is a vampire, demon, witch, and paranormal fighting hearse driver who takes the special job of  transporting the dead, and sometimes the newly undead, for the Delacroix Funeral Home. We first meet Graves as he races his souped up and gothically tricked out muscle car of a hearse to the nearest cemetery where he’s got to dispose of the body of a recently deceased “goth kid who liked to cut on himself a little,” and who made the bad choice of falling for the appeal of vampiric immortality, before the sun sets and the kid awakens as one of the undead. Unfortunately, “it being New Orleans” everyone was a bit slow in getting around to contacting Graves, so when he finally makes it to his destination and encounters some grave robbers having a field day, AND the sun has just set…well, let’s just say Graves will definitely be earning his pay this night.

It’s this unique mixture of supernatural horrors, breakneck driving, and hard boiled tough guy action and heroics that makes Driver for the Dead a unique thrill packed read. Writer/creator John Heffernan (screenwriter for Snakes on a Plane) opens his story with an episode that at first really doesn’t seem to have much to do with a “driver for the dead,” but dovetails nicely into introducing and developing the main plot which will eventually lead up to a battle between good and evil and tough guy vs. evil tough guy. It’s intelligently plotted, and the characters are allowed to develop nicely, especially Graves. We get to see him in action right from the start, and his actions speak for him. He makes quick work of a vampire and a witch, deftly displaying his monster mashing chops. It’s a nice touch on Heffernan’s part. Having Graves wipe out two of the most stereotypical monsters in nary but a few pages alerts the reader that this will be no stereotypical horror/action thriller, but something a little more intelligent and frightening.

Penciller/inker Leonardo Manco’s artwork is simply breathtaking in its detail, realism, and creativity. His snake demon (another nice touch by Heffernan considering his history with snake stories) is truly scary looking and inventive. His panel layouts are almost cinematic in their progression. Where he really excels is with his realistic detail work. Everything from the occult symbols on the inside roof of Graves’ super-hearse to the face of Graves' Omega wristwatch to the charging pistons of the super-hearse are intricately penciled, lending an air of detailed realism to this tale of dark fantasy and horror.

Radical Comics is becoming renowned for top notch art and storytelling in their titles, and Driver for the Dead looks to continue this trend. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better drawn and scripted horror/action thriller on the stands of your local comic book store.

Rating: 9 /10

Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00

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