Sector 5, New Bedlam, USA. Dark, grimy and a dead end for those living there, life is most certainly hard for the denizens of Sector 5. Twenty years after a mysterious cataclysm that saw the sky literally destroyed has left civilization divided into strict ghettos of the haves and the have-nots.
Bartholomew “Beezer” Beezenbach is a trouble-maker, that’s for sure, but he is simply getting by like all other young men his age: dealing drugs, running the streets with his friends, feuding with his parents and making out with his on/off girlfriend. But there is something that sets Beezer apart from the others, it must be noted. He suffers from these so-called “visions”, aural and visual flickerings of life before the great cataclysm, visions that do unfortunately make him a target of the scientists from the upper-class sector.
As if life in Sector 5 wasn’t hard enough already, for Beezer things are just about to take a horrible turn for the worse…
Deadenders was a short-lived 16 issue series printed by the DC Vertigo line back in 2000, written by acclaimed writer Ed Brubaker and pencilled by British artist Warren Pleece, a man well-known for his work on titles such as Hellblazer and Kinetic. Deadenders: Stealing the Sun collects the first four issues of the original series as well as a bonus story that first appeared in Vertigo: Winter’s Edge 3.
The story for Deadenders: Stealing the Sun is a highly character driven affair that hinges heavily on the main character Beezer and his relationships with the people around him. And while the major cataclysm that shapes the world around these people does play a pivotal role in the story, it really is all about these aforementioned relationships and establishing a better picture and platform with regards to the main protagonist so that the stage for the rest of the story that is still to come can be properly set.
The surroundings and tone of the work is very post-apocalyptic, but the actual styling and characterization has a very heavy ‘Mod’ feel to it, meaning that there are a lot of drugs, a lot of mopeds/scooters and a lot of real ‘Britishness’ surrounding the whole affair. Ed throws in a lot of swearing for his characters as well, but in all fairness the dialogue never comes across as forced and indeed, this actually reinforces the whole feel and tone surrounding Deadenders.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Warren Pleece’s artwork and thankfully the excellent inks of Richard Case help keep Pleece’s often erratic pencils in check, leaving us with a fairly simple, heavy line styled visuals that are pretty easy to follow, look okay but unfortunately do lean a bit towards the boring side. Solid colouring from Bjarne Hansen should also be noted in that it does add a fair bit of depth to Pleece’s otherwise rather 2D pencils.
In summary, Deadenders: Stealing the Sun is certainly a palatable read, but it doesn’t stick out as anything above ordinary. It is however pretty well paced, short and to the point and is by no means one of Vertigo’s more cerebral products, which actually is quite a good thing for a change believe it or not. I would be quite interested in seeing how the rest of the series developed, but unfortunately to date, this is the only trade paperback ever released for the series, so I won’t exactly being holding my thumbs for anything soon.
Related link: http://www.edbrubaker.com/past/deadend.html