Dead Weight Review
Dead Weight is a murder mystery from Oni Press revolving around Jesse, Tony, Noah, and Kate who find themselves in the middle of a murder scene at Camp Bloom, a weight-loss camp for teenagers. Dead Weight is an original graphic novel written by Terry Blas and Molly Muldoon, illustrated by Matthew Seely, lettered by Fred C. Stresing, and coloring assistance by Tait Howard and Sandra Lanz.
In a 2018 interview with comicbook.com, Blas references previous films and discusses the idea of creating a story around camp life. He said:
“I also liked this MTV documentary called Fat Camp. There was so much drama and emotion there, so it seemed like a good place to set a story. I tried to think of the most dramatic thing I could and obviously that was murder.”– Terry Blas talks about Dead Weight
Dead Weight Synopsis
Jesse, Tony, Noah, and Kate find themselves at Camp Bloom, a place not every teenager wants to go to for the summer. Although this is Jesse’s first time at this camp, it’s clear this is an unwanted waste of time compared to a fashion program she’d rather attend. Tony, Noah, and Kate have been attending for a few years, but it’s not initially clear on why each of them keeps coming back. On top of the nervous moments of checking in to camp, whispered conversations and secret letter passing amongst the counselors sets the stage for the fun mystery lying ahead.
Camp Bloom appears to be what you might expect from a place designed to help kids lose weight. There are scheduled exercises, cafeteria style healthy lunches, and sitting around a campfire at night listening to songs and opening up to each other about the reasons why everyone is at the camp. There are also moments of sneaking away for some candy and technology, while the counselors hide their smoking habits, share summer romance stories, or sell snacks to desperate campers willing to fork over some cash for the goods.
Oh, there’s also a murder. Jesse and Noah find themselves out of their cabins after hours, at the wrong place at the wrong time, smack dab in the middle of a murder scene. Fast forward their sprint back to their cabins to escape an unidentified killer and you’ve got yourselves a murder mystery on your hands. Also, when Jesse’s dad talked about spending a lot of money to send her there, and to not “let it go to waste,” I’m pretty sure he never envisioned paying for an experience that would provide her the necessary skills to run for her life, let alone become a homicide detective.
Dead Weight is Entertaining and Worth Revisiting more than once
Writers Terry Blas and Molly Muldoon have created a murder mystery where having fun during the trek is just part of the experience when you dive into the story. Blas and Muldoon crafted relatable characters that anyone can find something to hold onto, whether it be nervous conversations, snarky attitude, or the overall sense of not fitting in or feeling like you belong. There’s a little bit in each of these characters that’s recognizable, whether they’re the main protagonists or part of the supporting cast, where you get the notion that you’ve met some of these people before.
Dead Weight also dives into the emotional side of being a teenager, whether it’s feeling misunderstood, being looked down upon for gaining weight, having attachments to electronic devices, or running for your life in absolute terror. There’s a wonderful flow to the story where you see all of these characteristics pop up, making it feel natural in such a way that we hope to never actually experience such things, because you never want to find yourself at “Camp Murder.”
On the other hand, you want these kinds of friends in your life. Although they quickly bond over the most unfortunate of circumstances, they are able to quickly depend on one another for support. They understand feeling like an outcast, so each one’s ability to listen to the other helps to strengthen their friendships. It’s a true testament to the writers for establishing relatable characters in the middle of a murder mystery, and you can only hope that each of these characters make it out of Dead Weight alive.
Dead Weight makes you Feel like You’re in the middle of a Murder Mystery with its Artwork
Matthew Seely’s artwork really presents Dead Weight in a way that makes you feel as if you’re there. There are large enough panels where the spotlight is on the characters, and you get a closeup look at how they’re reacting to one another in each scenario. Seely zooms in on facial expressions, conversations, or moments, as if you are the only one meant to see or hear what those specific characters are doing in that moment. It’s a fantastic way to feel involved within the story, as if you’re in on whatever mystery is surrounding everyone at Camp Bloom.
On top of feeling like you’re a part of the core-four group in Dead Weight, Seely’s art has such an inviting look to it. Dead Weight has an all-ages feel, but this is not for the little ones; there are loveable characters, wide-eyed expressions, over-the-top reactions, teenage hijinks, and everything seems perfectly fine for anyone to read, until you see someone stabbed in the chest. It provides such a clever and disarming element to the story where you feel yourself being pulled into Camp Bloom with the other campers.
The colors within Dead Weight are spot on. There are a variety of different colored backgrounds, including wonderful nightscapes that range from pinkish-purples to deep blues. Plus, the twelve chapters of this graphic novel are colored with a purple hue, featuring a spotlight effect and a different illustration for each chapter. These illustrations connect to a character or an important item or clue within that chapter, which adds another fun layer to an already entertaining story.
Additionally, everything in the story has a very defined look, so you have a clear-cut feel for everything you’re seeing, which also adds a great give and take vibe to the murder mystery. Seeing everything perfectly clear means that what you don’t know is even more impactful, because you have to solve the case with our main characters.
Dead Weight is a Fun Murder Mystery that Won’t Disappoint
This creative team for Dead Weight has maximized the output that one might call Magnum, P.I. meets Murder She Wrote meets Full House, and all of it is blended together in camp life. There is playful humor, sincere moments, and fun puzzles to solve that dance around the horrors of discovering and then attempting to solve said murder.
Dead Weight is a story where the characters could return for future stories, and we’d love to see them, or you could plop new characters into a similar atmosphere to watch the calamity ensue. That’s what makes Dead Weight worth going back to read again, which I’ve done. The style brought to this murder mystery is light-hearted in a way that’s not stressful, but still gives an air of excitement once the crime takes place and you move from one chapter to the next.
If you enjoy murder mysteries, delightful characters who are full of self-doubt and worth cheering for, and want to help solve the “Murder at Camp Bloom,” then Dead Weight is the story you need to pick up.
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