By: Max Brooks (story/script), Raulo Caceres (pencils/inks), Digikore Studios (colors) & Kurt Hathaway (letters)
The Story: It’s a zombie apocalypse with a vampiric spin.
Review: The obvious reason to buy/read this comic is that it’s written by Max Brooks, the author of the popular novel, World War Z (which game its name to a movie coming out this weekend). Brooks has rightly gotten a lot of accolades for WWZ, but the story we get here reminds me more of his associated works like The Zombie Survival Guide and Recorded Attacks. Those latter two works were “kinda entertaining, but nothing great.” I’d use similar words to describe this comic.
The story shows us a zombie apocalypse through the eyes of vampires. I guess that is a somewhat different spin on the same old story, but it saps some of the horror because you aren’t concerned for the main character’s safety. The zombies don’t even seem to notice that the vampires exist. So, this initial issue has all the terror of a farmer watching locusts eat the crop.
And that illustrates another problem with the issue. The promotional materials for the series promised that the vampires would try to save some humans just to have something to eat later. I wanted to see Max Brooks’ spin on THAT. Even if the idea of vampires helping humans against zombies isn’t wholly new (see The New Deadwardians for a recent example), there are storytelling possibilities in that concept: will the vampires create some sort of horrible human farm (as seen in The Twelve, by Justin Cronin)? Will the vampires form a coalition with a human government? Will the vampires move all the humans to Tahiti and fight the zombies on the beaches as they straggle ashore? All of those things offer chances for characterization, intrigue, etc., but apparently that must wait for next issue because all we get in this issue is vampires watching zombies eat people and reflecting on how zombie uprisings have happened throughout human history.
Finally, from a technical standpoint, I have some problems with the scripting of this issue. Brooks falls into the common trap of prose writers in that he writes a little too much and has a few too many narration boxes. It isn’t something that makes you toss the comic away in disgust, but it does serve as a reminder that writing comics is very different than writing novels.
The art is a mixed bag. Raulo Caceres does have skills. If you want someone to draw a two-page spread of zombies attacking humans and you want intense detail on every coil of intestines and every piece of rotting flesh, Caceres is your guy. Seriously, there are a few double-pagers in here that must have taken a week to draw. It’s hard not to admire the artistic dedication of a guy who so dutifully draws the gore, especially when such gore is important to the story. But Caceres is weaker when it comes to things like facial expressions on his characters, body language, etc. Combine that with a writer who is more of a novelist and you get a story and characters who aren’t so easy to connect with.
Conclusion: Okay–I guess. I’m still curious to see how Brooks resolves the vampires’ food shortage, but there wasn’t any snap to this issue.
– Dean Stell