Having heard nothing but positive reviews of We Only Find Them When They’re Dead (WOFTWTD), I picked up the trade of the first five issues as soon as I saw it in my local comic bookstore. The title was intriguing (we only find who when they’re dead?!) and the artwork inside was absolutely breathtaking.
Normally, when I review a comic, I begin by discussing the storyline and the writing. This time, however, the art is so fantastic that I’m going to start there.
Illustrated by Simone Di Meo with color assists by Mariasara Miotti, the artwork in WOFTWTD is similar to a cinematic anime style with gorgeous details and action panels that truly pop. Often, the sequences don’t even require dialogue, although any backstory that we can get about the characters and the story is appreciated in this fast-moving series.
As much as Di Meo’s artwork stands out and makes this comic memorable, it’s the colors that really bring WOFTWTD to life. Bright neons and pastels blaze across the pages to great effect. The further you read, the more you begin to see how certain colors are connected with particular characters and how even black, which is a true absence of color, plays its part in telling the story.
As for the story itself, which is penned by Al Ewing, I honestly found it a bit lacking. Although it has all the exciting elements of an action-packed space drama, I felt as though there were too much left unsaid and unexplained. It’s as though the reader is dropped into the middle of a world partway through a series without understanding the world that they are reading about.
What we do know is that WOFTWTD takes place largely in the year 2367 aboard a spaceship named the Vihaan II which has a crew of four – the captain, coroner, quartermaster, and engineer. In this future world, the human race has used up the resources of any planet that they have inhabited and now survive by finding and harvesting the gigantic and immensely beautiful corpses of gods, which float in from beyond the edge of the galaxy. Ships like the Vihaan II are called autopsy ships, and they bargain to claim parts of the gods’ bodies and clothing to carve up, to either keep for themselves or sell for a profit.
Much of the specifics of the story are ones that I had to read up on online after finishing the trade. The details of how, when, or why the human race used up their resources is never explained, nor is it explained what exactly they do with the gods’ parts (other than that they eat the meat portions). Perhaps all of this is detailed later on in the series, but I spent a lot of time wanting to understand these things while reading the trade and being a bit confused about why they were never made clear. I understand that Ewing is probably trying to leave some mystery, something to pull the reader through the story, but I felt as though too much was left unsaid.
One aspect that I did like was how the main characters of WOFTWTD are just a group of people doing their jobs, even if their work seems a bit unorthodox. In a way, the crew reminds me a bit of Firefly because they find themselves doing a potentially dangerous job just to survive in an unstable, sci-fi future. Also, the fact that we discover pretty quickly that even the work of dissecting and extracting pieces of an alien god is highly regulated by the government feels like an ironic twist. Skirmishes regularly break out between different ships attempting to claim (or sometimes steal) various, more lucrative parts of the gods’ bodies and the government employs security enforcers to keep the ships in line.
Of course, if this were just a tale of people doing their jobs, there would be no real story here. Enter Georges Malik, the captain of the Vihaan II, whose family have been trading in pieces of gods for generations. Malik has a plan to break free of the system that’s been put in place by the government – he and his crew intend to be the first to find a living god.
But it turns out that Malik has a lot of baggage and history with a certain government security officer who keeps such a close eye on the captain and his ship that she’ll make the Vihaan II’s quest even more difficult.
Despite the aforementioned feelings of confusion about parts of the story, I do feel that there is enough compelling action here to keep me wanting to know what’s going to happen next, especially as the trade ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. If nothing else, I’ll want to see more of Di Meo’s stunning artwork.
Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.