- July 13, 2021
We Only Find Them When They’re Dead Review
Spoilers for We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #1-5
Written by: Al Ewing
Art by: Simone Di Meo
Coloring by: Simone Di Meo, Mariasara Miotti
Lettering by: AndWorld Design
What’s space if not an infinite void of nothingness? I mean sure, it’s full of wonders. There are the stars and solar systems around us, most of which can be found inside their respective galaxies and nebulas whose forms supersede imagination. Yet, they’re all so far apart. There’s so much room between the many different beautiful things out there in space.
To me, it’s always felt empty. To traverse space is to traverse infinite darkness that knows no bounds. It feels like some eldritch horror, and it likely always will.
Existential horror and cosmic horror go hand-in-hand. This fear of the unknown and what’s out there sticks into the back of our minds, just itching in our heads. It’s the fear of always being unsettled, of things never seeming completely right.
That’s space to me, and that’s space in the world Al Ewing and Simone Di Meo have created in their Boom! Series…
We Only Find Them When They’re Dead.
God, that title is terrible for the YouTube algorithm. My thumbnail must look like a mess.
We Only Find Them When I’m Confused
Al Ewing, writer of Guardians of the Galaxy and S.W.O.R.D., and Simone Di Meo, artist of several Power Rangers books, have created something special. I’ve been lucky enough to jump on this early with the first volume. Admittedly though, I don’t think I get what they’re trying to say.
We Only Find Them When Their Dead is strange and confounding to me. I mean, I understand the basic plot. A future occupation has humanity carving out the corpses of dead gods for resources, and the desire for more from life. The moment-to-moment plot is easy to understand.
What I don’t understand is the underlying message. I referenced, existential horror, not only because this series invokes it, but because it’s giving me an existential crisis.
There are dead gods floating through space. A dead god gives off ideas of the death or absence of faith, maybe even hope. But it’s important to note that these gods don’t resemble our usual ideas of gods enough to confidently convey that. The gods in this book are more like giants, titans even, with no domain or clear symbolic meaning. The main characters are not carving into the god of the sky or the harvest. They’re just these gigantic, human-like beings, who people don’t understand.
I honestly don’t get it, but that’s okay.
We Only Find Them When Ewing Says We Do
I’m not going to pretend that I understand what Ewing is doing here. I don’t understand whatever metaphor these gods stand for; I don’t understand why Di Meo draws them, encased in armor, without any signal of their domain; and I don’t understand what makes these beings gods.
Die Meo, with his gorgeous, anime-like art style, makes the gods of this book larger than life. That much is a fact, but he doesn’t make them unknowable. They’re strangely human at a glance with how they look and how they die like us.
After matching this art with Ewing’s incredibly philosophical dialogue, and it all becomes unnerving. It’s both a far cry from his work on Guardians of the Galaxy and not. It reminds me of the early conflict with the newly reborn Greek gods, and Star-Lord being trapped in another universe.
At the same time, it reflects nothing of the struggle of the Guardians who fought those gods. We Only Find Them When They’re Dead is not a funny, bombastic adventure, it’s a struggle for the meaning of life.
If you liked the Star-Lord-focused parts of Ewing’s Guardians run, you’re the most likely to enjoy this.
We Only Find What We Want to See
The moment I knew there was something missing, that something just wasn’t clicking with me, is the philosophical question about whether a god can be both real and alive. Are they too much for the human mind to comprehend? It feels like it in this book. The existential horror stems from accepting that these beings are gods at all, and the gods somehow being dead.
Ewing and Di Meo seem more interested in asking these questions than making the usual space-faring book. There aren’t going to be any real standout characters, which is far different from both of their previous works. There are going to be standout moments and standout ideas behind the lines.
I feel like I’m grasping at straws comparing this to Guardians of the Galaxy if I’m being honest. Ewing’s writing has real range, and that’s impressive beyond any fault.
Di Meo on the other hand is a clear tour de force. His art encapsulates me with every page, even as I don’t understand what’s going on. Ewing doesn’t make any obvious effort to make any character’s personality all that interesting. It’s Di Meo’s art that allows characters to pop off the page anyway.
The worst thing about the book is likely the characters and how lacking they are in development. Their personal drama feels melodramatic and gets in the way of discovering the existence and reason behind these dying gods. They feel almost insignificant beside what they’re here to discover.
I want to know more about the gods they find only when they’re dead.
We Only Find a Lesson if We Need One
This is a new and happy experience for me. I’ve learned to enjoy something without completely understanding it. Usually, I tend to derail and dog on stuff that tries to be too high-brow for its own good.
This book isn’t condescending, or up its own butt, that much I know. I don’t know much else though, other than that it’s beautiful, and it has me thinking.
I still think about that first god the characters found, this dead deity just floating through space. It’s a sight to behold, and another series under Boom! Studios belt.
I think Boom! Studios are about to become my favorite publisher. What’s your favorite series from Boom! Studios right now?
Check out their stuff, I’ll be reviewing more for the site and the channel soon. Thank you for listening, and try to find more books like this before they’re dead.