By Mark Kidwell (story), Nat Jones (pen and inks), Jay Fotos (colors) and Jason Arthur (letters)
The Story: What’s worse than being ordered to fight in-country at the height of the Vietnam War? Being ordered to fight in-country at the height of the Vietnam War…with zombies. What the troops there can’t know yet, of course, is that the zombie plague has spread…and there’s a good chance that no one will have a home to go back to.
What’s Good: God I love this series. Not only does Kidwell move deftly between military drama and outright horror, he captures the essence of time and place so well. Whether it’s in the middle of a Vietnamese jungle outpost, or a campus protest in California, the way Kidwell is able to establish the period so well lends a fantastic verisimilitude to the story that helps immensely when the dead start attacking.
Jay Fotos continues to do an excellent job on the artwork, although he has less to work with in this issue than he has in the past. (Lush, dark jungle and looming military equipment seem to provide better atmospheric fodder than a brightly lit college campus.) The scenes of zombie attacks are quite gruesome, though it never feels excessively so. It would be nice if things were a bit more varied (even something as cringe inducing as zombies chowing down on someone’s innards gets old if its in too many panels), but I feel like that’s nitpicking.
What’s Not So Good: I’m a bit undecided on this point, but I’m not sure I love the idea of the infection spreading to the US from a story standpoint. Now, the riot scene (with zombies!) is easily my second favorite in the series after the tunnel-rat expedition in issue 1, but it does shift the focus of the story, and destroys the isolated sense of dread that’s been carefully built up in the previous two issues. It’s still absolutely horrifying, to be sure–more so in some ways, since a zombie attack on a college campus in broad daylight is not something you’d expect–but I wonder if both stories would have been better served by being told independently.
Conclusion: I’m not a huge fan of horror comics, but the visual style and excellent storytelling taking place in ’68 is more than enough to warrant a recommendation. Whether you are interested in the time period or just like zombies, this is not a series you want to pass up.
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