Hey everyone John here with another Bookshelf article. I'm sticking with free Digital Comics because who doesn't like a freebie? If you have let to go get some here is the link to 2000AD. Today's comic has the grandiose title 'The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (and the Dead Left in his Wake)'. That's is truly all I can tell you about the comic. I haven't heard of this tale before so I'm trying to go in blind with it and write my thoughts as I have them (hope it works).
The cover is dominated by a Western/Cowboy themed Skull, sat in front of a pair of crossed Six-Shooters. The image instantly stands out as being a representation of the old Jolly Roger; Skull and Crossbones flag design of pirates. With this image in mind, I think it is safe to say we are dealing with a Western themed tale. Overall the palette is muted and doesn't really pop for me like a lot of the 2000ad covers, but this does seem fitting to the theme/era. Other info given to us is that it is an intro comic. With this one being number 1 of 6. I'm sure the hopes of the 2000ad team being you'll read this and then want to buy the other 5. We then get the cover variant image, which for me has even less appeal. It shows what seems to be the above skull as a living person, being pulled down from his horse. The big problem for me is the fact that it almost looks like it was taken zombie movie scene. I really hope this isn't a zombie themed tale.
Script: Rob Williams
Art: Dom Reardon
Colours: Peter Doherty
Letters: Ellie De Ville
His name is Ichabod and he was a killer. But his death was only the beginning of his story…From writer Rob Williams (The Royals: Masters of War) and artist Dom Reardon (The Ten Seconders), comes a tale of vengeance and redemption that will shake the very gates of the afterlife itself. Ichabod Azrael was the deadliest, meanest outlaw the Old West ever spat out – but his murder at the hands of hired guns takes him on a journey through the underworld as he desperately tries to return to the land of the living, and his true love Zoe, haunted by the dead he left in his wake…
So the story begins in a voice over third-person, monologue style, explaining the childhood and the life of Ichabod. Ichabod was as I had guessed, from the Wild Frontier and as such this is a Western. His childhood was like most from that period, pretty rough. Only difference being that Ichabod had a preference for violence. Ichabod soon becomes an infamous outlaw and meets his end in a town called Cornith. This is when the story takes a change of direction. Now it's time for part two of Ichabod's life. With the main character now being some form of an undead/spirit/soul thingy. It's also here that I realise my fears are coming true and my want to read on, has greatly diminished. But I will push on and see where this goes.
So Ichabod is dead and along with his life, we also lose the colour panels. The only time we are treated to a colour panel is when he is having flash backs. For me the story takes a downwards turn rapidly. We learn that Ichabod is in a limbo/hell scenario and has the ability to kill the guards/demons of this realm (reason for this is unknown). Making him a marked man as he refuses to obey the rules or the lords of this land. The tale then follows the usual over used plot of a redemption tale: make some helpful friends, escape, gets chased, have some weird turn of event (in this case there is a plane in the desert) and ride off into the desert.
As you can properly tell by now, I am not a fan of this story. There will be no redemption of this tale for me. I find the whole undead/afterlife story arc dull. The main character Ichabod seems flat and without substance. Meaning that if he was to truly die in the story, I just wouldn't care. Personally I would have loved the tale to have been set in the real world. Following Ichabod in the Wild West and setting up a more realistic redemption story. I will be saving my money and not buying the rest.
Sadly this story ultimately flopped me, so I'm giving it a 1 out of 5.