Jay Faerber's lead character, Markham, is a former hit man who has had a change of heart. While this is a common archetype for many comic characters, Faerber gives us a more complex character than usual, with his own unique sense of justice. I can’t stress enough how difficult it can be to turn away from common stereotypes in this kind of story, from the "dark, misunderstood loner" to the "overly self destructive redemption hero." Faerber expertly dances close to these traps without ever succumbing to them.
In this, the second trade volume of Near Death does an amazing job of giving its characters personality and its world reality. As much as I like the lead character of Markham, it is truly the supporting cast which makes such an impression. The characters feel real, and while I wouldn’t be surprised if Faeber based some of these characters on real people, I would be very impressed if he didn’t.
I loved a lot of things about this book, but I kept being drawn back to the intricate backgrounds and incredibly expressive character designs by Simone Guglielmini. If you aren’t reading this book, for Heaven’s sake look through it and appreciate some of the best skylines I’ve seen in quite some time (coutesy of Ron Riley’s excellent coloring).
The biggest compliment I can give to this book is the consistency, with which it avoids clichés and again that impressive mark of Faerber’s writing real, human-feeling characters. I guarantee this book is worth picking up, and I expect to see great things in the future.