Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Horrors 2011 #15 The Last Zombie

Brian Keene wrote one of the really great Zombie novels (that hit just before the Zombie renaissance sadly) in THE RISING.  I didn't much care for the sequel to that one, and have checked in on his work on occasion, but his first full on comic book venture, The Last Zombie, caught my eye.  Could it be good?  Antarctic Press puts out good quality product and the first series is out in trade as the second series entitled Inferno rolls out monthly. 
Hey, they must be doing something right, because I see the issues coming out regularly and on store shelves! 
Short review, The Last Zombie is a cool zombie tale in a sequentialscape littered with corpses both weirdly groovy and atrociously poor.  Sadly, it will most likely be swallowed up, but does deserve a look from any horror fan.
We join our protagonist Doctor Scott on Day 27 of THE END OF THE WORLD as he is being transported across a zombie infested city by a military escort full of soldiers straight out of the Aliens Colonial Marine school.  He was supposed to be married on this day-and instead is being taken to a government secured station for big brains, away from his fiancee.  The story jumps ahead two years when her installation goes offline and the same military personnel, now deadened to the dead by more than 700 days of apocalyptic acceptance. 
Much like THE RISING, the lead character is on a quest to find his family through zombie territory.  But there is a trick.
The Dead are dead.  Again.  The world has gone back to the beginning as survivors make their way after the end of the world, making things no less harrowing. 
So...The Last Zombie?  Well, it is a surprise that I don't want to ruin for readers-because it is rather clever and has me interested to read the new series once it is finished and collected. 
The artwork by Joseph Wight is very good, stylized without looking cartoony (look for an awesome shot of the crew meeting a bear on the road) and he manages to keep the characters looking individual in similar gear and making military gear look like it has some actual weight.  The zombies are gross and the sequences with the leper colony are wonderfully gruesome.  The only presentation problem I have with this is the choice of lettering style. You can clearly see it in the page above-look at the letter "E" and ask yourself what is missing. 
I have NO idea how this is supposed to look good to be honest, it looks like hatch marks all in the lettering, because the vowel E is prEtty important in thE schEmE of lEttEring.  Ugh, I hate this, it is distracting as all get out.  But if my biggest gripe is lettering on E then I guess we are doing pretty well.
The story is interesting and certainly feels like Brian Keene's storytelling that I'm familiar with.  The characters are interesting and there are some new spins to old tropes that I liked a lot.  The only issue I can point out is that the pace is a bit flaccid in spots.  The world of The Last Zombie is nice looking, but it isn't so unique that it merits so much space as a character to itself.  That might work in a book like Fist of the North Star, but not so much here. 
Maybe I just wanted to get to the meat of the matter a bit quicker-call me impatient.  I think I've been burned by so many independent series that don't make it to completion that I wanted to see a little more closure, but as a first act, The Last Zombie-Dead New World is a good shock show that zombie fans will enjoy.  I hope that Zombie Hangover doesn't keep horror fans leery of indy comics away.  It's the real deal.

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