Murder Me Dead #1 (of 8)
[El CapitŠn $2.95 US B&W]
Written & Illustrated by David Lapham
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Murder Me Dead #1Steven Russell is in his early thirties, owns a successful jazz bar in Los Angeles and canít fathom how his life could be such crap. Maybe the fact that he and his wife, Eve havenít been doing so well lately. So poorly in fact that heís been having an affair with his sister-in-law, Barbara. But the capper to his depression has to be the apparent suicide of his wife.

Lapham is taking a break from Stray Bullets (after issue 22) to tell an eight-issue story of murder. This one starts with the death of Eve although itís been ruled a suicide her family suspects Steven played a part in it. They sic sweaty P.I. and former cop, Sam Fred on his tail. However, theyíre the type of family thatís not so much interested in justice as they are interested seeing her wealth go to her husband.

Lapham has become a master of the crime/noir comic. But if youíre expecting lots of gun battles and blood, youíll be disappointed. Thereís plenty of violence in Laphamís stories but the true stars are the characters.

Murder Me Dead is no exception. From Steven Russellís incapacitating self-loathing and pity to Tony, an old high school buddy who looks Steven up after reading about Eveís death in the paper and who you just know is only there to see what he can get out of his old pal, to the mysterious Tara Torres, Stevenís old high school crush, and current obsession. Theyíre all people you could find out there in Anywhere, USA if you looked hard enough.

This is a promising start to the story. If youíve never read Laphamís Stray Bullets series I urge you to pick up Murder Me Dead. Itís a good introduction to his story-telling abilities and favorite subject matter.

Any self-respecting comic store should be carrying this series but if you have trouble finding it write to El CapitŠn Books, P.O. Box 351508, Los Angeles, CA 90035. You can also visit their web site at www.straybullets.com. [This domain appears to be up for sale. Not sure why.]