ZOMBIES DU JOUR
Apparently, zombies remain a vital part of our current popular culture and continue to draw readers as well as the obligatory flies. IDW, one of the current comics publishers to feature a healthy assortment of horror and dark fantasy works, serves up two more rotting titles in February. let’s have a sniff peek at them . . . . . . . . . .
WE WILL BURY YOU #1 ( IDW, cover date February 2010) written by Brea and Zane Austin Grant with art by Kyle Strahm (cover by Ben Templesmith)
If you’re only going to check out one of these titles, then I recommend you pick this one - - - it just seems more promising to me. WE WILL BURY YOU is scheduled for a four issue run.
Brea and Zane Grant are associated with the “Heroes” television series, although that shouldn’t matter to you. She is an actress on the series. He is her less famous brother. Together they’ve cooked up an interesting story here and peppered it with a lot of flavor. The art by Kyle Strahm reminds me of a cross between Ben Templesmith and Darick Robertson and is worth further investigation.
WE WILL BURY YOU takes place in 1927 America right after the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, and the opening events occur just as a zombie virus is set to over-run the world population (no explanation of cause yet). There is a great panel on page one where an overhead shot of an ant-sized milling crowd looks like a demonic face.
This appears to be a character-driven storyline and the personalities are quirky and interesting. We are introduced to three of them in Issue #1:
- Mirah, a thin and attractive lower-class resident of the New York tenements, shapely enough to be a Ziegfeld girl but doomed to making a living as a dance-hall girl, getting nickels in exchange for a quick dance with men who only want to grope her.
- Henry, her unemployed and jealous husband who spends his days sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee in his undershirt and boxers, unshaven and unkempt while he spouts his world-view, criticizing and comparing Mirah to everything that he finds wrong in modern life. He considers himself the only moral person left on the planet as he berates his wife on how right-thinking he is: “Your body is a shell for a thousand immoral personalities. You change them as often as you change clothes and with all the sincerity of a companion animal.”
- Fanya, a lesbian Ukrainian immigrant inclined to steal men’s clothing from the monastery locker room so she can impersonate a male, pay her nickel and get up close with her lover Mirah in an effort to persuade her to change her life. “And these men control you for the small amount of time you give them. They own you.” To which Mirah responds, “Nobody owns me. Not the boss. Not Henry, and certainly not these chumps. I just rent myself out occasionally, that’s all.”
On the night when the zombie infestation erupts onto the streets of New York, Mirah and Fanya bond together as they flee, while Henry gets a new lease on life and remains behind. While the zombie action unfolds in the foreground, there is a conflict of lifestyles and choices and morals occurring in the background that really makes this tale interesting and drives it forward. Also lurking in the background are flies and more flies, perhaps the catalyst for spreading the plague. This is not for the faint-hearted, and certainly not for young people. Check it out.
ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS ADVENTURE #1 ( IDW, cover date February 2010):
What got my attention right away was the cover painting by Ashley wood, an apparent homage to Frazetta’s cover to BLAZING COMBAT #1 although no credit is given. BLAZING COMBAT was a short-lived (1965-1966) black and white comic magazine from Warren Publications, which attempted to achieve for the war comic the same success of CREEPY and EERIE’S horror tales.
The initial run of ZOMBIES VS ROBOT ADVENTURE is planned for four issues, and will serialize three separate stories, all scripted by Chris Ryall with different artists. Unfortunately, the creative and always interesting Ashley Wood is not one of them, although he is listed in the credits as a co-developer/creator with Ryall. Wood played a much bigger role in the two previous zombie-robot mini-series from IDW (2006 & 2007).
Two of the three artists are worthy of attention, and the other is kept interesting through the use of muted shadings of the same color in all of the panels. All three stories seem to take place after the same catastrophic event, although there is no attempt to link them together other than this implied shared universe. Only the first story, “Kampf”, includes a short and incomplete explanation of what has happened.
An unidentified science explorer returns from a trans-dimensional gateway bringing along some infected spoor, which triggers a zombie plague. Mankind could not fight them off alone, and warrior robots were created to help them in battle.
“Kampf” with incredible illustrations by Menton Matthews III, details the beginning war preparations as Sergeant Davis Wade leaves home to meet his team of robots. It’s notable mostly for the departure scene between Wade and his unhappy wife, who lectures him on putting his country before his family in what looks to be a hopeless cause. The art looks like a combination of painting with oil colors and photo-realism and is worth a second look. It’s difficult to tell from this short nine-page intro whether it will be something I want to follow, but the artwork may bring me back to “Kampf”.
“Masques”, with art by Paul McCaffrey occurs before the war at an underground munitions storage complex in New Mexico. A janitor discovers the alleged suicidal remains of a scientist and a vast array of servile robots that all resemble C3PO and pledge allegiance to him. He also deduces that some “other” killer robots are on the loose and discovers some schematics that look uncannily like Tony Stark’s plans for the first, cumbersome gray Iron Man suit. I like the art far more than the story here, but I don’t like it all that much.
“Zuvembies Vs Robots, Part 1” with art by Gabriel Hernandez takes place around a campfire in Haiti as the locals discuss the zombie plague that is spreading across the world. They conclude that no help is coming and a dark-arts-practicing member decides to use a little old-fashioned voodoo to resurrect their own zombie army to defend them.
They have trouble picking up a radio signal on their boom box, and a robot shows up to use his current to power-up the signal. That seems like an excuse to stay faithful to the title of this book and get a robot into the story somehow.
I’m not quite ready to dismiss the art on this story, since everything takes place at night and it’s very dark outside of the confines of the campfire. With that in mind, it becomes a very effective use of shading and various hues of brown to convey the image of darkness and fear.
ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS ADVENTURE #1 scores a 1.5 out of 3 rating with me. I don’t dislike it. I’m just not that inspired to seek out more. If I do return, it will be because of the art more than the story. To be fair, these three very short stories don’t have a lot of pages for proper development and may get better as we move along in issues to come. If you are a zombie fan, then you should check this out - - - as it may turn out to be an interesting spin on standard zombie fare.