Overview

5 Days to Die #1

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5 Days to Die #1

Credits

  • Words: Andy Schmidt
  • Art: Chee
  • Publisher: IDW Publishing
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Sep 1, 2010

I knew 5 Days to Die was something different from the very first panel – and I’m not talking about its clever weekly format.

Andy Schmidt and Chee’s modern noir thriller begins with a “discussion” between the book’s protagonist, Det. Ray Crisara, and his wife Debra, on the way home from an evening out. I’ve had “discussions” like theirs. We all have, I think. And that’s what’s different about this miniseries. It’s more than just a marketing gimmick. It’s a book that operates on numerous levels but most important, it speaks to the reader from an emotional place we’re all familiar with in today’s fast-paced society.

Schmidt amends this opening issue with an author’s note relating the creative impetus behind the series’ creation. Stemming from Schmidt’s own very personal emotional journey, 5 Days to Die explores Crisara’s inability to deal with his family, while loving them deeply and sacrificing everything to protect them. Schmidt puts it best: “to protect them from danger, he has to abandon them emotionally. Or he can leave them in danger to be there for them emotionally.”

This is the emotional catch-22 at the heart of 5 Days to Die. Schmidt’s plot is fairly simple and it doesn’t need to be anything more. The physical action isn’t what drives this book, despite the clever marketing ploy of publishing each of Crisara’s remaining five days on a weekly schedule. It’s Crisara’s emotional ineffectualness, his lack of a connection with his family and his simultaneous deep, deep love for them that drives the series. All of Crisara’s actions stem from this emotional conflict.

This level of emotional impact in a visual medium requires an artist of exceptional caliber to pull it off without descending into melodrama. Schmidt’s artistic collaborator Chee is a revelation. His noir style absolutely simmers with barely restrained emotion buttressed by incredibly strong visual storytelling and a shadowy, suffocating atmosphere that only serves to amplify the anxiety of literally living by the clock.

Despite a built-in deadline, 5 Days to Die is a book that takes its time to build drama and tension with emotionally intense character beats and an evenly paced plot. Schmidt and Chee have obviously invested themselves emotionally in this story and it translates into a powerful, intriguing first issue of a series that could very likely have been written off as nothing more than an empty marketing strategy instead.

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