Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The Mammoth Book of Zombie Comics

The Mammoth Book of Zombie Comics
The Mammoth Book of Zombie Comics
Edited by David Kendall
If it's dead, moving and hungry, you'll find it here.

   I’ve got to admit, I’m getting pretty sick of zombies, surely I can’t be the only one? In recent years the undead hoards have seen a huge resurgence, thanks primarily to comics and shows like The Walking Dead and games like Left for Dead. It’s got to the point where they’re pretty much inescapable. They’re on TV, in Movies and games, comics, novels, toys…aprons….they’re everywhere….

   Despite my growing disinterest in the Zombie genre however, I decided to pick this book up. Mainly because it showcases a lot of writers and artists whose work I’m unfamiliar with and I fancied something new.

   The problem with this book is one you’ll probably see coming. It’s an omnibus, there are eighteen stories in here of various lengths all with different creators. There’s going to be some you like and some you don’t. Personally I found the balance to be pretty even, maybe tipping slightly toward stories I didn’t like, but every reader of this book is going to have a completely different experience.

   In the case of most of the stories I didn’t like, the length was a major factor. Some stories come in at five or six pages and it’s just not enough space to tell any engaging stories. They feel like sections cut out of larger narratives and there’s no depth to the storytelling. The short strips basically contain the message “zombies are scary and will eat you”, there’s nothing more beneath the surface, they’re not saying anything.

   Thankfully though there are some stories with a little more meat on their bones. Pariah by Jon Ayre & One Neck and Zombies by Kieron Gillen & Andy Boor, are both short stories dealing with lone survivors of the apocalypse and the methods they employ to survive, Zombies especially has a very dark ending that I won’t spoil for you, but it’s worth seeking out.

   The main attraction in the book for me was Dead Eyes Open by Matthew Shepherd & Roy Boney Jr, a two hundred page story, a complete graphic novel in itself, that offers a unique take on the Zombie apocalypse. Shepherd’s zombies retain their memories and mental faculties. They’re the same person they were when they were alive, they’re just..well…dead… The story sees the zombies (called returners) rounded up into camps by the government and turns the gory zombie genre into social commentary dealing with civil rights and prejudice. It’s a fantastic story and, if you’re considering buying this book, is worth the price of admission itself.

   Whatever you’re tastes, you’ll find something here you like (well…as long as your tastes include zombies), from short gory tales like Black Sabbath (Stuart Kerr & Vincent Locke), Character driven pieces, Job Satisfaction (Gary Crutchley) or even zombies in space, Flight from Earth (Oleg Kozyrev & Roman Surzhenko).
   I doubt many will enjoy every story collected here, but it’s a decent variety that will keep you entertained. If you’re not sick to death yet of zombies, this one’s definitly worth picking up. 

panel from might of the living dead

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