Joe Hill knows his way around a comic book. So do the folks at IDW. The two have famously collaborated on a number of projects, past, present, and future, including the acclaimed Locke & Key. Now, the acclaimed author and the maverick comics publisher are teaming up once again for an all new series: Dying Is Easy. And they’ve done a bang-up job so far.
Decidedly different from the magical mayhem of Locke & Key, Dying Is Easy centers on Syd “Shit-Talk” Homes, a disgraced ex-cop, bitter stand-up comic and wanted felon who finds himself in quite the tight spot. How he got there is the subject of the first issue, and how he gets himself out of it will be the story told over the five parts, in total. But as Hill himself revealed in our recent interview for the comics’ launch, the clues are there for savvy readers to try and piece together along the way.
And while that’s certainly a fun factor in reading Dying Is Easy, you don’t need to be a super sleuth to enjoy the story as it unfolds. In fact, the joy is in reading Hill’s words and taking in the noir sensibilities delivered by artist Martin Simmonds as you get to know Homes, his hard-luck story, and his equally down-on-their-luck counterparts. Homes’ isn’t exactly booking million-dollar gigs as a stand-up comedian, but a tragic incident keeps him from picking up his gun and badge ever again. So while Homes craves the stage lights when he’s on a roll, he tries to stay out of the public spotlight whenever he can. There are just too many open wounds in Homes’ recent past; rather than heal and scar over, they only seem to fester, to make more trouble for Homes wherever he goes. So one imagines it won’t be long before he’s back on the case, this time from the wrong side of the law, if he hopes to save himself.
Dying Is Easy spends most of its first issue wallowing in Homes’ stand-up act and shit-talking with his fellow comedians at a dingy dive bar. If you don’t like Homes’ style, or Hill’s writing, you’ll know it within a few pages. For me, it’s Homes’ personality and off-kilter camaraderie with his aging friends that makes this story. If his shtick’s not for you, you’re more than welcome to pay your tab, grab your coat, and head out the door. But if you do, you’ll be missing the big hook that sets itself in the last few frames of the final page.
Dying Is Easy is off to a great start thanks to Hill’s beleaguered protagonist and Simmond’s watery, neon-drenched visuals. I’m not smart enough to solve this mystery just yet, but I’m definitely curious enough to read on.