Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews—now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘We Only Find Them When They’re Dead’ #1, out September 2 from BOOM! Studios.

'We Only Find Them When They’re Dead' #1: The DoomRocket Review
Cover to ‘We Only Find Them When They’re Dead’ #1. Art: Simone Di Meo/BOOM! Studios

THIS ADVANCE REVIEW OF ‘WE ONLY FIND THEM WHEN THEY’RE DEAD’ #1 IS SPOILER-FREE.

by Clyde Hall. Humans. We liken ourselves to Alpha Predators. Divine Beings. Intellectual Top Rung on the Terrestrial Food Chain. The truth? We’ve thrived by being effective scavengers. No shame in it. In fact, our big brains qualify us for the job. Owls as fierce hunters, but wise ones? Not so much. All ocular, with minimal brain pan. Vultures are our avian analogs. Smart, observant opportunists.  

Al Ewing and Simone Di Meo know this, and their launch for We Only Find Them When They’re Dead addresses those truths without directly addressing them.

The human knack for scrounging to the point of resource exhaustion often takes a butcher’s turn, evidenced by commercial whaling. Evidenced less directly with human mining and drilling for fossil fuels. Ewing and Di Meo sight along humanity’s past and the oft-repeated reason for leaving our home world. Learning may drive our explorations but searching for profitable sources of raw material more often fuels our daring. Ewing writes us this way. A species whose settings often change, its habits and motivations seldom. 

But a species ready to move past its old ways. Maybe.

Issue #1 is a textbook introduction of a four-member futuristic space crew working a job under an all-controlling interstellar authority. We learn the role of each member on the team, we discover the tech of Ewing’s future, we learn how the system works. Concurrently, we’re privy to everything that isn’t spoken, a presentation of under-the-noses-of-authority stream of understanding that gradually allows us into the protagonists’ confidence. 

Ewing’s dialogue does a tango with Simone Di Meo’s artwork. Initially, the technobabble and officiousness of the chatter sit at odds with a beautiful, glorified style. Aesthetics harnessing the sprawling desolation and wonderment of an extraterrestrial frontier. As Ewing’s coded words are revealed beyond their surface inference, possibilities outside the normal workaday of commercial space begin matching the visuals. 

It’s choreography where the visual movements are breathtaking, the accompanying words a mutedly unremarkable melody until the harmony beneath builds. Then the narrative becomes a complex and fitting match to all the expert footwork displayed. 

Readers may find elements of We Only Find Them When They’re Dead familiar. They could speculate it was designed for the continuity of bigger companies, companies which took a pass on Ewing’s pitch and must now watch his storytelling realized outside their control. Based on the first issue, this may well be. It shouldn’t lessen your enjoyment. 

Mariasara Miotti is credited with coloring assists, and if the advance tech swipe effects are part of that, it’s credit well deserved. The overall hues lend panels a dream-like essence, notably in an early flashback moment. But the quality is retained throughout, galactic tales of star faring business still imbued with enchantment. It forms a bright Giger antithesis where even the motion line effects, dazzled with color manipulations, add seductive lures to distant stars.

Deron Bennett’s AndWorld Design lettering contributes nuances in its own manner. Our protagonists have a standard conversational font, one shared by those they’re answerable to. However, another font, staid and attractive for unimpeachable truth, is used for stating what the authorities hold as the official, corporate policy. It’s a lettering reserved for storybook tales or exclusive mail-in offers, and there may be measures of both in the company manifesto. 

By the end of We Only Find Them When They’re Dead, we know the establishment’s position of power, their control, their preferences for a future beyond the future depicted. We also know the potential for human adventure that surpasses their visionless stance, and the danger of such civilization-altering ideas to the important status quo and the even more important bottom line. Having experienced Ewing’s twists on established continuities before, this has the sensation of him setting his own story and reality foundations into place. He builds it lean and strong; all the while preparing the wind and whirlwind to alter, invert, and change everything we expect from his science fiction story. The watch has begun. Eight bells, and all’s very well.

BOOM! Studios / $3.99

Written by Al Ewing

Art by Simone Di Meo.

Color assists by Mariasara Miotti.

Letters by AndWorld Design.

8 out of 10

‘We Only Find Them When They’re Dead’ #1 hits stores on September 2.

Check out this 5-page preview of ‘We Only Find Them When They’re Dead’ #1, courtesy of BOOM! Studios:

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