DEADBOX #1/ Script by MARK RUSSELL/ Art by BENJAMIN TIESMA/ Colors by VLADMIR POPOV/ Lettering by ANDWORLD DESIGN/ Published by VAULT COMICS
Lost Turkey is one of many small American towns that is little more than a post office, a gas station and at least one church. It’s the sort of town most young people long to escape and Penny was no exception to that impulse. But college had to wait for as long as it took her father, wasting away from some mystery ailment, to get better or die. Until then, the only thing Penny has to stave off the boredom of provincial life is the weird movies in the rental kiosk. The one that doesn’t ever seem to get restocked that is the town’s only source of entertainment from the outside world. Or perhaps… the Outside World.
Beyond the frame story of Penny, her sick father, and the many denizens of Lost Turkey who appear in this first issue, Deadbox #1 spins a science-fiction story through “The Lonely Planet,” the movie Penny spends most of the issue watching when she isn’t working. The story involves Earth’s first encounter with aliens and reads like something Douglas Adams might have written at the height of his power. I found it deeply amusing, but, as always, Mark Russell has a deeper meaning amid the humor and this issue also features some truly deep monologues about how stupidity is equated to freedom that resonate all too well today.
The artwork is equally full of hidden depths and horrific elements. Benjamin Tiesma has a deceptively simple and sketchy style that proves equally adept at depicting a small Southern town and an alien world. The colors by Vladimir Popov are suitably chosen throughout, with a muted quality that hints of the decay of the world that stands in marked contrast to the beckoning promise of the bright red box.
Maybe Deadbox resonated with me because my first job was in a small town video store; a slice of Americana as dated today as the five-and-dime and the town milkman. Somehow I doubt that. In my opinion this may be the finest bit of social satire Mark Russell has ever written and one of the best anthologies of weird tales since the original Twilight Zone. It is a must read for all fans of quality comics.
Deadbox #1 releases on September 8, 2021.