Four Letter Nerd

Dexter Vol. 1 [REVIEW]

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Let me start by saying, I’ve never read any of Jeff Lindsay’s 6 Dexter books (a 7th is scheduled to be released this September). That’s not to suggest that I don’t like reading or that I don’t think I’d like them. I do, and I probably would. But picking up a novel and reading it comes about as easy to me as being a normal, down-to-earth, functioning member of society comes to Amanda Bynes (Yay! Tabloid Culture reference that will eventually be outdated!)

However, my ability to watch TV is rivaled only by Amanda Bynes’ ability to be a bat-shit-crazy train wreck in a wig (Yay! Another one!), and Dexter is my jam Yo! I absolutely love that show. I can say with complete confidence that it’s in my top 3 favorite television shows. That murderous-yet-charming anti-hero with a “dark passenger” just enthralls me (for the uninitiated, Dex’s “dark passenger” is what he calls his need to kill. Much like the more lonesome and eccentric of us would call ourselves Chocoholics or BROnies). He’s a simple enigma that practically feels nothing at first but evolves and begins to love, and care for people, and experience desire. That’s the Dexter I know and that’s the Dexter I have as my control group for comparing to a new medium of Dexter media…

Dexter the comic book series (and coming soon: Dexter the Flame Thrower!)

When I first heard that Jeff Lindsay was bringing Dexter to life in comic book form I was extremely excited. I had absolutely no idea what to expect but I had really high hopes. And then it got pushed back. And then it just KEPT getting pushed back. It started to look as if we were more likely to see a new Guns N’ Roses album before we got the Dexter comic book (Chinese Democracy doesn’t count, as I consider it less of an album and more of an experiment in the art of Oh-that’s-cool-OH-MY-GOD-WHEN-DID-MARIO-BATALI-BECOME-THE-LEAD-SINGER-OF-GUNS ’N ROSES!)

 

One of these men is an overweight ginger who's constantly surrounded buy food and has a poor sense of fashion. The other guy is Mario Batali.

One of these men is an overweight ginger who’s constantly surrounded by food and has a poor sense of fashion. The other guy is Mario Batali.

 

What was originally supposed to debut in early spring didn’t release until July. That’s a lot of time for hype to diminish. I was nervous that maybe the ever-changing release date was a reflection of Marvel’s confidence in the project (did I mention that this was a Marvel project? No? Are you sure? No I’m not calling you a liar, I’m just saying that I thought I mentioned it! Geez. Relax.)

After picking up the first issue and carefully reading it so as to not let it grab hold of me and jam a syringe of horse-tranquilizer in my neck, I realized how different it is from the show. Excluding Rita, the characters are not the same as they are on the show, but somehow you can’t help but read the dialog in their voices. Michael C. Hall’s soothingly sinister tone just forces itself ever-so sweetly into your brain as you read Dexter’s words. In a flashback scene we get to see Dex talking to Harry (his stepfather who knows about his “dark passenger” and tries to help Dex control it) but Harry’s advice is so uncharacteristically Harry. Again, you can’t help but hear James Remar’s voice as you read Harry’s words, but you just feel like, “That would NOT be Harry’s advice.” But this isn’t the same Harry. Comic Harry comes across as a little less of a pacifist than TV harry. It’s tough to accept if you’re acquainted to a different version of Dexter, but it works. It’s kind of refreshing to experience a new interpretation of the characters. The only exception may be Deb, who we get a glimpse of at the end, but she seems to be just as high strung and intimidating as she’s portrayed in the show.

The book creeps along like it’s leading you to something big. It starts out with a typical scenario from Dexter’s “night life” and then the rest of the book is a mixture of current events and flash back, but we are introduced to the person who uis most likely to become the nemisis of the story arc. It’s all clearly a set up for that something big I previously mentioned, but just as you’re getting there… It ends. This is something we Dexter the TV series fans have come to accept as a normal way of storytelling. The novels may have a completely different approach I’m sure. When dealing with a television show and with comic books you’re getting the story in installments rather than the instant gratification of a book that you can read in a day if you want. Sometimes it hurts a project to be released in installments because the content is most likely something that can be wrapped up in one complete collection (movie, book, graphic novel, etc). However, much like the show, Dexter the comic is off to a good start by showing you that they intend to reveal mysteries of the plot to you over the course of several issues, while keeping each book interesting on its own with new backgrounds and character development.

While there are some aspects of the story that I’m not sure what their motivation was for arraigning the way they did, Dexter #1 is a great set up for a new story in the Dexter catalogue. If comic books are something you can see yourself being into, and you’re a fan of Dex, I recommend picking up this first book in the new series and see if grabs you.

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So, what’s your favorite version of Dexter? Do you prefer novel Dex, TV Dex, or (assuming you’ve already read it, and if you haven’t… hello! Look at the last 900+ words!) Comic book Dex? If you’re familiar with any of the diverse versions of Dexter, what differences have you noticed?

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Stephen Andrew

Stephen has spent most of his life reading comics, watching horror movies, listening to death metal music, and speaking in the third person. His favorite comic book character is The Punisher, and he believes that the Punisher: War Zone movie is criminally underrated. His favorite film of all-time is National Lampoon's Vacation, and his favorite album is Pantera's "The Great Southern Trendkill".

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