“5 Days to Die” is a five-issue weekly mini-series with each issue focusing on a single day that Ray Crisara has left to live after a car accident that also seriously injured his wife and daughter. It’s an interesting high concept and delivering it over the course of September works with the concept, but the story doesn’t begin strongly, making a lot of assumptions about how much the reader will care intrinsically about the characters without a proper foundation. Schmidt is in such a rush to get the story going that he skips over some of the necessary set-up.
After waking up in the hospital, Crisara assumes that the car accident was a hit attempt by a criminal named Hoverman and rushes off to try to prove it, or, at least, get revenge. This is the first time we hear about Hoverman in the comic and, while it’s easy to figure out what Crisara is talking about, it comes out of nowhere. Part of the goal, obviously, is to make Crisara appear unhinged and desperate, but he just seems like a crazy paranoid, not someone that we feel for or want to get behind.
But, that’s a minor problem compared to the lack of set-up for what Schmidt says in the text piece at the end of the issue is the point behind the series: “At its core, ‘5 Days to Die’ is about a man choosing to run from his family problems or to face them head on.” If you squint hard enough, you can see it, but since the problems in the Crisara family aren’t introduced in this way, it’s not readily apparent. The issue begins with Ray and his wife arguing and it’s suggested that this happens often, but the idea that Ray is emotionally distant isn’t properly introduced, leaving his actions after the accident without a proper context.
Though the writing doesn’t properly set up the story, Chee’s art is very engaging and is a great reason to give this comic a look. Using single colors to set the tone for scenes, Chee’s high contrast style emphasizes his pencil work with blocky and expressive figures. The single color tones make sure his line work pops off the page, while also providing an emotional cue for what’s going on. Despite the strong use of blacks, Chee uses a minimal amount of lines to show detail and emotion, but he’s very effective. Just how upset and unhinged Crisara is comes through in the art.
There’s a strong perspective in the art as we see this world partly through Crisara’s eyes and partly through Chee’s. Certain panels look warped or fuzzy, allowing us to get into the same headspace, to a degree, as Crisara. It’s very effective and makes me want to see more of Chee’s work.
While the idea behind “5 Days to Die” is interesting, Schmidt is in such a rush to get the story going that it loses a lot of its impact because of a lack of context. Maybe future issues will fill in the gaps more, but, right here, it’s hard to properly connect with the protagonist or get the main idea behind the series without it being spelled out in a text piece.