Monday, November 18, 2013

THE OTHER DEAD - - Revenge of the Animal Kingdom



THE OTHER DEAD #3 of 6 (IDW Publishing, release date November 13, 2013) Writer / Co-Creator: Joshua Ortega. Co-Creator: Digger T Mesch. Art: Quing Ping Mui. Colors: Blond. Letters: Tom B. Long. Edits: Tom Waltz. Creative Consultant: Kevin Eastman. Based on a film treatment by Digger T Mesch. Covers by Sam Shearon, Shane White, Kevin Eastman & David Millgate. www.theotherdead.com www.idwpublishing.com




After three issues of THE OTHER DEAD the half-way point in this grisly but gripping saga of a zombie plague has been reached. Events have been heating up to a boiling point. The furious and savage attacks by various species of the animal kingdom against humanity are now widespread, especially in the state of Louisiana which seems to be the epicenter. With a hurricane threatening to accelerate the devastation and isolation even further, Issue #4 should be on absolute fire and ready to explode. That leaves two remaining issues to bring everything to a resolution or conclusion, and this reviewer wonders when and how (and why) it will all end.

Let’s consider together some very popular zombie fiction (and film) for a moment. Fans of the comic book series dislike the television series, and vice versa. But would they both agree on the following? = Is it accurate to state that THE WALKING DEAD is first and foremost a human interest drama, with the gruesome tale of zombie infestation being a secondary concern? Please make a decision, pick one or the other, and hold that thought.

Now, will the growing readership of THE OTHER DEAD consider this statement? Is it accurate to state that THE OTHER DEAD is first and foremost a gory tale of the rise of the animal kingdom and their revenge against their persecutors (human race), with the human interest drama being a secondary concern? Please make a decision, pick one or the other, and hold that thought.



Perhaps it’s a commentary by Lynda E. Rucker that appeared in U.K. horror publication BLACK STATIC #36 (September-October 2013) that stimulated this thought and led me to ponder the creators’ intentions. (Sure, I could always contact them and beg the question. But I would rather wait for the end, and be either surprised or have my suspicions confirmed. It’s more fun this way.) In her column, Rucker considers horror storytelling and genre storytelling in general and debates whether they should entertain first and foremost, or contain meaning and purpose. Also, she asks “can the two approaches exist side by side?”

It came down to this comment by her, which really struck home and stimulated the thoughts that influenced the way I began this review:

Fiction and film that demands a bit more of its audience, however, is a little more endangered, because it doesn’t always go down as easily and (most significantly) it doesn’t usually make as much money. But one of the things I love most is a challenge. I like dense prose, difficult characters, uncomfortable truths, have-to-read-it-twice-or-more-to-get-it stories. Tell me a tale that will make me look at the world differently once you’re done, not because you’ve taken me out of the world, but because you have located me more firmly within it even as you’ve infused it with the supernatural, the numinous, the impossible.

Does that mean that PETA will embrace THE OTHER DEAD and utilize it as a call to assemble for their cause? (I doubt that, but it’s an interesting thought.) Will some meat-eating readers of THE OTHER DEAD begin to feel guilty about their food choices and convert to vegetarianism as a result? (That’s another interesting thought.) Could a reviewer by searching for meaning or just sharing some deeper thoughts generated by THE OTHER DEAD suddenly revive a sleepy readership and provoke some comments on the website? (That’s a third interesting thought.)

The only things that appear fairly certain at this point are that 1) not every character introduced will still be around by Issue #6; 2) the odds seem to be stacked against the human race; and 3) artist Quing Ping Mui is a major talent who deserves more recognition. So far, our intrepid group comprised of a death metal band, some hooker girlfriends, and a younger brother has suffered the loss of two of their members. Birds, gators, dogs and now squirrels (which can infiltrate a home rather easily) are all out for blood. If the critters don’t get them, the hurricane-fed tropical storm surely will. From gory images of animal savagery to a range of vivid facial expressions (which makes crystal clear the emotional trauma being experienced) to background scenery, detail, and a fantastic final page of the storm at its worst - - Mui can do it all.



What also occurs in Issue #3 is the President and chief advisor meeting up with rocker Azrael and friends after surviving an assault on their vehicle by a vicious pack of rabid, drooling dogs. (Finally, the President gets his kicks in.) And, for the first time he is identified by name as “Obama”. Make no mistake about the vaguely familiar man as drawn by Mui. Yeah, the Prez is here. There are also disturbing images and consequences associated with an escape from a gator assault on an SUV. Some redneck hunters may have found a sure-fire solution to curbing the spread of the virus, but at what cost? It doesn’t bode well for the final outcome here. And, if humanity survives at the cost of the animal kingdom, what does that do for the balance of nature? How might it change the future? Perhaps the creators have some surprises in store along the way. I’ll be watching this closely the rest of the way and will continue to post some updates here (doing my best to avoid completely spoiling it.) I highly recommend this mini-series. Go check it out.






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