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The Dead Cell

Reviewed by David O' Leary

Story by: John Barker
Art by: Scott DM Simmons
Publisher: Arcana Studio
Cover Price: $14.95

Book Summary:

How would the world be changed if the mentally ill were allowed to determine reality? The Dead Cell explores the experiments of the recently graduated Monica McCoy, and her employment with the secret "Dream Research Program" at Breckenridge State Hospital. While being briefed on the basics, nothing can prepare her for the horrors she encounters upon reporting for duty. What ensues is a tale of madness, reality, and the supernatural chronicling one woman's journey as she comes face to face with the horror of The Dead Cell.

Reviewer's Comments:

I was going in to this book with no pre conceived notions as to the content. I was aware somewhat of the book from having read the 11 page preview of the book and was aware that it was going to be a darkly cerebral book that looks to be well written and gladly, I wasn't far wrong.

Coming at 76 pages this tome is a unique book in that it will appeal to a niche audience and will not appeal to everyone but that is perfectly okay. The core of the story is four stories with one over wrapping beat that revolves around a mental hospital where a wing of the hospital nicknamed The Dead Cell which puts those who cannot completely live under the realm of reality into a medicinal coma. While in the coma they are experimented upon and what follows is some exceptional thought provoking writing from Barker. The script is a well thought out and structured and word heavy tale that comes across as a very intelligent read that unsettles you and entices you in equal measure. By using the segments framed by McCoy's thoughts was a nice way to write the story I feel and the stand out segment of the story for me, was that of Antwan Bolden which was a cruel exploration of a good kids slide into the darkness. Coupled with a cool twist at the end that I won't reveal here but in all honesty I never saw coming for a minute, I implore you to check it out on your own and discover this gem on your own.

Simmons' art has a cool, almost innocent essence about it that did the book justice as if it were presented too darkly it would actually have hurt it, I feel. The opening pages where we see Monica McCoy entering Breckinridge was nicely structured as to hint at something not so nice inside. This is one of those books where you almost study the art when reading it as it tells you just as much about the story than the script does. It is very layered and detailed and several images stick out like that of Monica putting on the mask which was a cool image, a very creepy image as she crossed that divide with a nice use of shadow.

I was delighted that this book was as strong as it was. I love an intelligent read that doesn't speak down to a reader and equally love one that has as much thought put into the art as well. This is a great read and only recently released so I implore to pick it up as if you want a book that will give you a great read and looks as good, look no further.

Rating the Issue

Story: Overall 8.66
Concept - 9 out of 10
Plot - 9 out of 10
Dialogue - 8 out of 10
Art: Overall 8
Style - 8 out of 10
Storytelling - 8 out of 10
Colour/Tones - 8 out of 10
Importance: Overall 8.33
To the Title - 8 out of 10
To the Company - 9 out of 10
To the Medium - 8 out of 10

Take a Look Inside


Reviewer Bio

Name: David O' Leary
Bio: David has been with CR since June 2008 and started out as a reviewer and has expanded to do a couple of columns for the site also; starting with 28 Words Later with artist Declan Shalvey and later 5 Minutes With... where he talks with the industries best and brightest from Kubert to Moore.

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