[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Sasha has just made it into Thrice-Nine, and he has flashbacks of one of the last fights he had with his brother. In the present, he’s been arrested and taken off by the Oprichnik. He was hoping to be taken to Sochi, the prison camp that holds his brother, but the Oprichnik are taking Sasha to Ark-Angel. Things are looking bad, but, thankfully for Sasha, Stone Mary has decided to not leave him to die in Thrice-Nine.
Dead Kings #2 follows up the first issue by diving more into the character of Stone Mary. We learn her history and why she has a reputation among the Rus. She also clashes up against Sasha, as both individuals have a rather sour disposition.
The dialogue and means by which the characters treat each other are both a big part of what sticks in my mind having finished reading this comic. Both Sasha and Stone Mary are very misanthropic individuals, yet I can believe that they would be working together. Mary wants to make up for some of what happened during the war, and Sasha wants to prove that he is worthy of his brother. Mary and Sasha are a lot alike in many ways.
This may just be me, but I have a better grip on the conflict between Sasha and his brother as well as the guilt Sasha feels in this issue. Sasha feels that he abandoned Gena and his mother to suffer this war, and that makes for a really compelling motivation.
Matthew Dow Smith’s artwork is gritty and fitting for the rough and unforgiving world that our characters inhabit. Every panel looks like an uninhabitable space that would kill the average person simply by enveloping them. The gore is impressive too. Lauren Affe’s color work is frigid and brutal as well, and Smith and Affe make for quite the team in this book.
Dead Kings #2 is a slightly slower and more character-intensive book than the previous installment, but it is still a highly compelling read. The characters are interesting, the history of the world that continues to expand in this book is similarly intriguing, and the artwork is gritty and visceral. This book earns a recommendation. Check it out.
Dead Kings #2 comes to us from AfterShock, and writer Steve Orlando, artist, cover artist Matthew Dow Smith, color artist Lauren Affe, and letterer Thomas Mauer.