Comics Anonymous

NEAR DEATH #1-4 by G-Man

I’d seen the 1st issue of this Image title advertised a number of times and something about it just seemed to call out to me and even though I didn’t have it pre-ordered….I picked up the first issue from my local comic book shop, Red Hot Comics, on another whim.

Issue #1:

Starting off in the middle of a job gone wrong – we see our assassin main-character, Markham speeding to the local vet’s office in the middle of the night and bursting in for some much-needed medical attention.  Flat-lining in the midst of surgery for 2 minutes gives him the life changing near death experience at the centre of this title.  Our assassin-for-hire has a change of heart as he vows to change his ways and focus his jobs for the purposes of good rather than evil.  Still taking the jobs that roll in but choosing how to make these a positive thing – ending with him intervening on another assassin’s job and saving the target while taking out a rival, Brewster, in the process.

Issue #2:

Covering the next of his “jobs” we see Markham taking on the role of protector again….as a convicted sex-offender is defended from a revenge killing following his release from jail.  Of course, the attackers come in the form of a father/son ex-marine combo…..and Markham has to come up with some way to solve this whole damn mess.  Some big questions are asked here…..and for a comic book….that’s gotta be a good thing.  Does time-served ever truly exonerate the ex-con…..and if not, does revenge in the form of murder become a justified means to an ends???  Markham solves this in his own creative way and without a drop of blood being shed.

Issue #3:

Markham steps in to help save a female homicide detective who just 2 years previously had been on the hunt for Markham.  After trying to take Markham down for years she faces the turmoil of accepting his help to save her own life.  Another spin on the wrongs from Markham’s past coming up against his attempts to make things right.

Issue #4:

Markham comes face to face with an Asian gang in this issue – after being hired by a top software geek, the gang kidnap his girlfriend for money….only for Markham to be hired to take on an old friend in the course of trying to save the geeks girlfriend.  Twists and turns in this as we get to know a bit more about the dealings between the geek and the gang.  Nothing is ever straight-forward for Markham it seems.  We also get to see the return of Brewster, previously thought to have been taken care of by Markham in Issue #1.  Things get more complicated as Brewster targets Markham’s apartment and his vet-come surgeon-come-girlfriend becomes caught in the crossfire.

4-issues into this on-going title and Image have caught me off guard again….a TOP title that I’m hoping to stick with and see where it goes.  A strong consistent story from Jay Faerber that captures the seedy underworld that hitmen and big bosses exist in….with the added advantage of the Sutton character.  Sutton is the female Vet who doubles as his surgeon when the need calls for it….but the relationship is much more complex than that….almost a girlfriend but definitely acting as his conscience throughout.  Then we get to Simone Guglielmini’s artwork…..strong gritty and realistic….and reminds me of some of Sean Philips work in Incognito or Sleeper.  Holding in-line with Faerber’s writing perfectly.  A special mention has to go to Ron Riley for the colours throughout out too…..muted tones and dark corners as you’d expect in the underworld depicted.  A strong first four issues where we see the writer/artist combine to co-create an enjoyable ride for us to jump on-board with.


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