At the end of Songs for the Dead #1, I wasn’t entirely sure where this series was going to go. Sure, it’s a fantasy series, full of swords and sorcery, but what type of buddy series was this going to be? Was it going to go the route of Bing Crosby/Bob Hope? The Road to Necromancers? Our very brief glimpse at Elissar didn’t tell us much by way of her character, other than Bethany seems apt to trust her.
Songs for the Dead #2 actually acknowledges this, as we finally get to understand Elissar a little more. Bethany assumed quite a bit about her traveling partner, mostly that she was going to be useful, or game for a long road journey. Turns out she’s a drunkard, a fighter, and is harboring secrets of her own. As much as I was irritated by her attitude, she felt more human than Bethany, by the end. Elissar isn’t meant to be a likeable character, at least not in her current place in life.
My only complaint with the series continues to be Bethany’s outlook on her field of magic. I’m a sucker for characters who should be evil, but aren’t (see: Hellboy, Spawn, Emmy, etc.), but it seems that Necromancy is being painted as a wholly misunderstood school of magic. It’s fast looking as a case of not having some necromancers who are good, but rather a case of some necromancers being evil. If that seems like splitting hairs, it kind of is.
It’s a minor complaint though, in the face of Bethany’s magic being oddly delightful. Sam Beck’s art makes the undead denizens of the world seem so oddly charming. Sure, the bird beside her is missing most of its plumage, but it still manages to feel like any number of charming woodland creatures. Bethany’s like Aurora crossed with Elvira.
In a genre that falls so easy into common tropes and pitfalls, I like seeing Songs For the Dead attempting to manipulate that mold. It’s not outright breaking out of the confines, but it is stretching its limitations. I can’t yet jump up and down over it, but I am cautiously optimistic for it. It has so many nice elements in play, I just hope it’s able to continue down its own path.
Our Rating: Yep
Author: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Nick Dragotta
Publisher: Image Comics
Publish Date: 05/24/2017
Acquired via Purchase