By Mark Kidwell (story), Nat Jones (pen and inks), Jay Fotos (colors), Jason Arthur (letters)
The Story: Summarizing the plot of a Vietnam-era war story by saying “things go wrong” might sound redundant. And in a normal Vietnam era war story, it might be. But not in ’68, oh no. In THIS Vietnam era war story, things go wrong…with zombies.

What’s Good: Let me start by saying that I’m not one of those people who’ll love something just because you put a zombie in it. I have no problem with zombies, don’t get me wrong, but the whole glut of early-aught movies dealing with them was more than enough for me. That said: holy. Crap.

I picked up this comic after doing a double take at the amazing B cover (the zombified version of the famous Vietcong execution photo). I literally just stared at it for a couple of seconds, sitting innocently there in the shelf, surrounded by the all the (comparatively) bright, happy super hero books I had come into the shop to buy. The real version of that photo is horrifying enough, both because of what it portrays and because of what it symbolizes. But this cover…this cover took that terrible image…and somehow made it worse. Perhaps more oddly, it didn’t have the (usually fairly obvious) stink of gimmick or exploitation that so many of these zombie mash-up projects have.

This becomes even clearer on reading the issue itself. I hesitate to go as far as to say that there’s a deeper, metaphorical significance to the zombies, but there is a distinct lack of the “gee whizz, cool, let’s blow up the undead with our machine guns and rockets!” sentiment that pervades so many zombie stories. This is far, far more Walking Dead than it is Zombieland. It’s unceasingly dark, extremely violent and (particularly in the tunnel-rat sequence, which I think will haunt my dreams for at least the next week) absolutely terrifying. The strong writing and stark, detailed artwork only serve to enhance and build on the mood.

What’s Not So Good: This is a somewhat difficult critique to give, since ’68 is only a four-issue mini-series, but I really think they unleashed the full horror of the zombie horde too early. Again, the creators don’t have many pages to work with here, but I still wish they had held off on the big zombie battles until next issue. [Small spoilers ahead] Introduce the zombie sniper, yeah, but then let the tension build. Let us get to know the characters a bit. Then throw in the tunnel-rat scene as the climax at the end of the issue and go out with your strongest set-piece on full display.

Conclusion: This certainly isn’t the only uber-serious zombie story out there; it’s not even the only super-serious zombie comic book on the shelf. If you have even a passing interest in either zombies or the Vietnam War, though, it’s well worth seeking out.

Grade: B

-SoldierHawk

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