Hey kids! It’s October, and you know what that means…
Not excited? Fine then.
October is the month of Hallowe’en, the time when our attentions crave less beachy warm fun, and more chills, splatter, gore and grotesquery. In keeping with a tradition yet to be established, Thor’s Comic Column is pandering to that base of all desires (you know, the blood and violence stuff) with our Creature Comics Feature, a three part series which looks down the (recent) annals of Thor’s reviewing history to remind you of some of the best, the worst, and those inbetween comics which ever so conveniently fit the genres we’ve picked out. Just think of it as a "Clip Show" with additional features.
In celebration of our first ever Creature Comics Feature, Thor’s Comic Column and Oddgod Press present a very special contest with loads of fabulous prizes. Click here for more details and the rules of entry. It’s quick, fun, and fairly painless (afterall, how fun could it be without at least a little pain). And now, everyone’s favorites: ZOMBIE COMICS!
George A. Romero’s Land Of The Dead Is A Day Late And A Zombie Short
By Rob Glenn
There are two kinds of comic book adaptations of movies; there are the kind that are based on the motion picture and the kind that are based on the screenplay. Of the two, the latter is preferable to cinephiles. When a book takes its cues from the screenplay then there’s a chance that scenes edited out of the film for whatever reason (time constraints, budget) are included. In a perfect world, a comic book version of a movie is more like a director’s cut. With fewer artists involved, you could expect the comic to be a less tainted version of the director or writer’s vision. There are actual real life examples of this being the case: the Army of Darkness adaptation has deleted scenes and is a damn good comic in its own right. More often than not, however, the end result is sort of a glorified swag.
George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead #1 is touted as the kind of adaptation based on the screenplay. Writing and art credits go to Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez, the team known for the well-made comic version of CSI. These guys are a good choice. They know how to comic-ize live action believably. Ryall has the ability to pull the best of dialogue and insert it where it needs to be without getting in the way of the art. Rodriguez can take a person’s face and insert it into his art without it resembling a caricature. The only complaint is that even if the resemblance is often quite striking, character’s faces rarely change expression. Fortunately, in a zombie story with such grim characters this isn’t as necessary as you might think.
With this crew, it really depends on the film whether or not this might be something you’d want to own. I will refrain from reviewing the film itself here. The majority of the readership at CHUD has seen the latest in Romero’s series and have developed their own opinions. For me personally, I felt it fell short of Night of the Living Dead for sheer scariness and shy of Dawn of the Dead’s free-for-all wackiness. There are plenty of those who loved it and I believe a few who feel it’s the best of the bunch. This comic is for you… maybe. If you’re looking for those "deleted scenes" I spoke of earlier, you’ll be disappointed. This is an adaption of what ended up on the screen and at times fast forwards even through that. Despite claiming to be based on the screenplay, this book is still glorified swag. Although if you need your zombie fix and The Walking Dead has been a bit too slow for you lately, this might feed your need. Whatever else could be said about this book, it moves fast. No running zombies, though.
TWO OUT OF FIVE VIKINGS
George Romero’s Toe Tags #1
(Originally reviewed Oct 17, 04 RIGHT HERE)
"While reading Toe Tags # 1 the only thing I could think about was not Romero’s legacy, but rather the incredible impact the film 28 Days Later had on the genre of zombie horror. Since Danny Boyle’s masterpiece was released, not only has the genre taken off, but by in large most everything in it’s wake has set out – very deliberately – to deviate from the genre conventions that Romero created…even, as evident with Toe Tags, Romero himself. In many ways it’s become a game of “Well these zombies are different.” Don’t get me wrong, change is vital. Genre conventions must evolve. But a problem arises when it’s change for the sake of change – when the change is arbitrary.
"Toe Tags straddles the fence between advancing a unique perspective on the genre and being somewhat arbitrary. The narrative is what you’d expect. Zombies have overrun the planet, and the only thing separating them from the handful of survivors left – in this case, the spunky Judith and mysterious Damien – are a couple of shotguns. No complaints there. The shoe fits. But the “twist” to Toe Tags can be seen from a mile away." – Sean
(Originally reviewed Jan 2, 05 RIGHT HERE)
"As with most zombie tales, the catalyst for the zombies is negligible (this one can literally be summarized by the phrase “What’s this button do?”), and the how the characters cope with the undead circumstances is what’s important (I’m sure many horror fans have given careful consideration to their own plan of action in case of zombie apocalypse). The humans in Remains aren’t particularly likeable, which reduces the emotional investment in whether they ultimately become chow or not, but there are a handful of clever moments and plenty of zombie carnage in the book, and Keiron Dwyer’s scratchy artwork is well-suited for the excessive gore.
(Originally reviewed Jan 23, 05 RIGHT HERE)
"Containment # 1 is, quite literally, a fusion of Alien and Night Of The Living Dead – zombies in space. Hoo-rah. Sure it sounds like a good idea, but seriously, it’s nothing I’ve not seen before. This first issue plays out in a similar manner to the opening minutes of “Pitch Black,” with the crew spending a 32-year voyage from Earth to Saturn in “containment” (glass sleeping chambers filled with liquid). On the 26th year of the trip the Commander is rudely awaken, and quickly assaulted by a mindless crewmember. She defends herself well, but walking around she finds herself amidst a few other glassy-eyed individuals attempting to assault her. She seals herself in the containment room and awakens everyone else. Things don’t look good for them.
So yeah, writer Eric Red delivers an uninspired story that sounds cool in concept, but plays out exactly like the bad-things-happen-to-a-small-group-of-people-in-a-confined-space cliché that it is. " – Graig
Arsenic Lullaby TPB
(Originally reviewed Mar 28, 05 RIGHT HERE)
"Arsenic Lullaby is an anthology-serial, with each issue containing multiple stories that carry on through following issues, but the wonder is how each segment can be read stand alone with its own punch line…. “Voodoo Joe” is probably the Arsenic Lullaby figurehead. Voodoo Joe is a man who was cursed by a voodoo sorcerer, had his head turned into a ritual mask, and must continually appease the sorcerer by getting revenge. Having long satisfied his own need for revenge, Joe now lends out his services with delightful indifference. The bulk of the stories are Joe’s creative revenge plots for his clientele, but also his struggle for redemption, although is army of zombie fetuses keep getting in the way.
"Other “skits”, including a guy without skin, a wife who keeps forgetting her husband is liquid, competition for the KKK, break up the pages throughout, all with a very biting, button-pushing intonation. But if your only reaction is to be upset, then you’re missing the point. The tone is always light, even if the subject matter and imagery is really disturbing. That contrast only serves to make it funnier, if you’re in a liberal enough mindset to consider it funny… I couldn’t see this kind of thing making most people laugh in the Bible belt" – Graig
The Nail TPB
(Originally reviewed June 20, 05 RIGHT HERE)
""The Nail” that the title refers to is an aging wrestler by the name of Rex, who uses metal pegged-shaped wood-fasteners to rake against his opponents in the ring. Rex is a man, much like
(Originally reviewed June 27, 05 RIGHT HERE)
"The focus of Dead World # 1 is on a group of Catholic school kids who’ve hit the road in a school bus packed with guns in search of “Safe Haven,” mankind’s last rallying point. Along for the ride is an enigmatic recluse by the name of Deake, who may be the key to figuring out this whole mess, if he can stay alive long enough. On their tails is the merciless King Zombie, the Toecutter if you will of the Dead World.
"Writer Gary Reed brings some things to the table here that makes for a fresh read and saves the book from just being Romero fan fiction, and artist Vince Locke’s raw and gritty black and white artwork is just fantastic." – Rob
(Originally reviewed July 11, 05 RIGHT HERE)
"Like any good anthology, Zombie Tales uses its overarching theme as just a baseline – allowing the creators to bring their own vision, ideas and interpretations to the table without being handcuffed by a strict set of rules. The stories here range from humorous (“I, Zombie” and “If You’re So Smart”) to terrifying (“Severance” and “Daddy Smells Different”) to even heartfelt (“For Pete’s Sake”). You get a little bit of everything; and no two stories are alike. I was impressed with the diversity of tone and setting here. Zombie Tales makes it abundantly clear that there is a lot of material in this genre to mine.
"There’s not a “weak link” in the chain here, (every piece is solid) which is rare for an anthology. That said, there are certainly a couple of standouts. “For Pete’s Sake,” by Johnna Stokes, is my favorite piece, an emotional vignette about moving on and finding something to live for in a post-apocalyptic world….“I, Zombie” by Andrew Cosby and Keith Giffen is by far the most amusing piece, featuring an undead loafer roaming around and talking like Superman villain Bizzaro (ex: “Me am so hungry, Me no can think.”). Quite amusing. “Severance” by Michael Nelson, Joe Abraham and Patrick Power is just cold-blooded in that 100 Bullets / “you have no idea what I will do to get revenge” kind of way. Quite disturbing." – Sean
Walking Dead Volumes 1, 2 and 3
(Originally reviewed July 12, 05 RIGHT HERE)
"Robert Kirkman gets it. He totally understands what die-hard zombie fans have been clamoring for: a serialized story set in a zombie apocalypse. In 28 Days Later fashion, our story’s hero, policeman Rick Grimes, awakens from a coma only to find that his town is abandoned save for the walking dead. His only focus is finding his wife and son, taking him to
"Tony Moore’s art in Volume 1 is fabulous, with great character definition and wonderfully ugly zombies. Charlie Adlard picks up the reigns for subsequent volumes, and although his art isn’t as clean or crisp as
Zombie King #0
( Originally reviewed July 25, 05 RIGHT HERE)
"The man can draw. If you’ve seen anything he does, you know this. Frank Cho makes pretty, pretty pictures, and even more so, pretty, pretty women. So then why would Cho want to draw the ugliest thing imaginable? Sure, they are cool, but there’s nothing sexy about zombies, absolutely nothing (unless, perhaps, you are a necrophiliac, at which point you’re sick, and you should stop reading this column and immediately seek help).
"Perhaps, like Elizabeth Berkley taking her post-Saved By The Bell/”I’m a grownup now” turn in Showgirls, Cho wants to shed his good-girl, cheesecake-drawing image by creating some sick, shocking visuals with Zombie King. Well, he certainly did that, if page three is any indication. For those that haven’t heard the controversy yet, Cho has drawn a zombie schtupping a cow." – Graig
Dead West OGN
(Originally reviewed Aug 8, 05 RIGHT HERE)
"By and large, Dead West is simply an amalgamation of conventions from two different genres – zombie and western – and that alone just isn’t enough to carry the day. Admittedly, the story has an interesting supernatural catalyst that makes the most of the setting and works for the narrative. But too quickly Dead West becomes just another blood n’ guts shoot ‘em up, as the townsfolk fend off a legion of the undead with help of the clichéd mysterious drifter. It’s page after page of a couple of heads exploding and then someone getting bitten. Unless this is a subtle allegory for the war in Iraq and I’m missing something, Dead West has none of the veiled social commentary or character development that has come to be the hallmark of good zombie fiction. And though certainly a tip of the hat, Dead West’s creators (Rick Spears and Rob G) earn no points for originality by using as their two central characters “Joe” and “Tuco” from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. " – Sean
When Zombies Attack! #1
(Originally reviewed Aug 14, 05 RIGHT HERE)
"Published this past July as an adaptation / expansion of the short film of the same name (originally released in 2001), When Zombies Attack! details the day-to-day misadventures of Frank and Chet, two officers in Burke County’s PMAC (or Post Mortem Animation Control), as they keep their community safe from zombies, werewolves, vampires and more zombies. Following Frank and Chet around on their assignments is a documentary film crew that lends a witty “COPS” vibe to the book. But When Zombies Attack! is more than just a mere parody or a spoof. Writers Chad Waters and Matt Rose have created endearing characters in Frank and Chet who have much more substance than the boring “random cop A” and “random cop B” you get on the FOX program. Instead, both have their own pathos, personality and mysterious background.
"The dialogue is funny, and the comedic pacing is spot on. Artist Jim Mahfood’s eclectic and exaggerated style really heightens the effectiveness of the physical comedy, giving everything a zany and over-the-top appearance. You just don’t feel so grossed out when those heads start exploding and people start tripping over corpses! (Plus, there’s a reference in here to a cereal named “Jesus Flakes.” How can you not love that?)" – Rob
Batman: Gotham County Line #1
(Originally reviewed Oct 3, 05 RIGHT HERE)
"A retired Jim Gordon convinces Batman to rough-it in the Gotham suburbs, since there’s a rash of serial-killings going on out there. The bulk of this first issue is Batman swiftly solving the crimes while still trying to give the County Bumpkin…er, Sheriffs their due respect. That zombie stuff just comes in during the last few pages, but the first-person narration from Batman presages all of it, so it’s not all that big of a deal. The tone (writer Steve) Niles takes, particularly in that narration and during the investigation, is perfectly on-point with Batman, and feels fresh and carefully considered… just simple, straightforward pulp-noir narration.
"Not to be outdone by his writer, artist Scott Hampton (joined by colorist Jose Villarrubia) turns out some excellent rendering… his characters and linework are bold, striking and adorned with just the right kind of texture and grit. His storytelling is clear and readable, and he handles the quiet calm of the investigation scenes just as well as the kinetic, wild energy of the fight scenes. Most importantly, however, is the fact that he draws Batman flying around the suburbs in a jetpack." – Russell
Tune in next week to the Creature Comics Feature for our Vampire highlight reel, and don’t forget to enter the contest!
HAVE A COMIC YOU WANT TO SUBMIT FOR REVIEW? Contact Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To discuss this column and all things Nordic, you may contact Sean at email@example.com , Devon at firstname.lastname@example.org , Dave at email@example.com , Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org , Rob at email@example.com and Graig at firstname.lastname@example.org.