"Was the zombie a republican Dad?" - Sasha Obama
The zombie apocalypse is going down but across the globe the living are fighting back, except for London and Rio De Janeiro where individual zoms are kind of being embraced in a sort of weird fashion. We're talking the sort of flesh devouring, head shot, zombie action that just makes you want to go get a rifle and join in the mayhem. Please note I'm not promoting gun toting violence here kids, you can go into the New South Wales parks and reserves and get your Vietnam War on if so inclined. Sorab del Rio takes us around some of the trouble spots and highlights individual actions in the face of a plague that threatens humanity's very existence. Lock and load, we're going in!
Silver Fox Comics have cast aside their bromance with Zorro, which was a bloody good read if you want my opinion, and have become infected with the rising tide of zombie carnage. While we may not be getting many major release zombie movies, World War Z is in all sorts of trouble, we are getting a sizable number of zombie orientated books, graphic novels, and assorted publications. Okay while some of it is pretty dubious, especially the books, there are a number of standouts to bring out your inner fan boy. Zombie Cities for mine joins Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead at the forefront of the publishing tide, we're talking one seriously good book here that should have zombie fans walking over the decomposing bodies of their family and friends to get their read on.
Structurally the graphic novel touches down in various parts of the globe to see how individuals are handling a surprise turn in world events. A Dad in Sydney takes up a Don Bradman signed cricket bat to go get his daughter from a Sydney collapsing in the face of rotting dead part. Full marks for the Ned Kelly inspired Texas Chainsaw Massacre divergence, get the book to groove to the reference yo. In Washington President Obama unleashes his beast, no not that you sick individual, and mans up to the zombie incursion threating the Capital of the free world. Meanwhile in Bondi Sydney, the ocean is releasing its dead to prey on bikini clad babes, now there's a horror trope! Japan isn't spared with eyeballs, you won't see this recipe on Master Chef, being consumed and generating a zombie army. Somehow George Clooney is involved, once again get the book to find out how, not giving anything away people. Only in London would you get zombie corgis and the greatest of secrets the Royal family want to keep. Meanwhile in New York, anything is possible with the prudent use of explosives against hotdog devouring ghouls. Before finally we touching down in Rio where voodoo is being used to raise the recently dead to exact revenge. Are we talking a multi-cultural extravagancies or what, only thing missing was China and Africa joining in the viscera laden fun ride.
del Rio throws down a very solid script to get things rocking. Not sure where the idea of a Don Bradman signed cricket bat being used in classic stroke play against the zombie hordes came from, but an inspired idea that speaks of an Australia that only exists in fiction or Channel 9 news stories full of spin. Equally President Obama going Jimmy Cagney on us was a hoot, loved the advisor who kept monitoring approval ratings while blood and flesh was flying left, right, and centre. del Rio really gets his West Wing on in this one to general Reader amusement. Pick of the litter for mine however was the concept of zombie corgis in Buck house, once again an inspired idea that is not only delivered in flesh biting brilliance, but retains the sly humour that pervades the script. Yes friends and neighbours, del Rio not only delivers on the expected zombie massacre of delight, but does so with plenty of one liners and situations that will have you laughing out loud. Be warned, if reading Zombie Cities on public transport you run the risk of antagonising your fellow commuters as you try and stop the insane giggling.
In traditional zombie fashion del Rio not only delivers on the zombie action but does so with social messages ala George A Romero. The best example of this is found in Horror at Harajuku, a story arc that del Rio goes triple threat on us with. Not only do we get the general abhorrence of traditionalists about the erosion of Japanese culture in the face of Western commercialism, but we also get the Japanese youth obsession with fashion and anime, the threat of George Clooney also points to the replacement of Japanese icons with modern celeb culture. It's a heady broth, but anyone who thought that good zombie outings were just great stories and pretty pictures needs to re-evaluate their adoption of the sub-genre. del Rio delivers the best indictments of the modern commercial imperative since Romero dropped us in a shopping mall circa Dawn of the Dead.
There's a degree of risk taking with this book as del Rio delivers not only the Don, but the U.S President, and the Queen with assorted royal family members. I mentioned the corgis' right? Best use of dogs since Blade Trinity in a horror outing for mine. You don't lightly use cultural icons without running the risk of a backlash from differing sectors of the public. del Rio serves it up unapologetically, and I was high fiving my Mikey Myers plush toy over this aspect of the book. So you not only get the common man, and woman, in battle with the zombie hordes, you also get the rich and powerful having to adjust their comfort zones. Not sure how royalists will take the Kate and Will appearance in Zombie Cities but I for one was having a hell of a lot of fun with it.
Various Artists were enlisted into del Rio's first graphic novel with the mix working marvellously well. The danger with using various Artists is that the panels can really clash as differing styles war for attention, del Rio doesn't have this issue. Zombie Cities is worth getting for some of the full page art on display alone. I guess overall there's a U.S feeling to the book, with a touch of British minimalist in one section and a tad of Japanese anime. For mine the artwork is of a higher quality than that used in The Walking Dead with some real attention to detail and getting the panels to work kinetically for the viewer. The decomposing dead are well conceived and if you haven't worked it out by now, there's a fair amount of gore going down. Two thumbs up for the various Artists who worked on the book, visually Zombie Cities really is a treat.
Technically, running out of room here, you get U.S comic book size in a professionally bound package. Full colour is used throughout the 106 odd pages with easy to read lettering and crisp reproduction. There are seven story arcs, which allows for block reading rather than requiring the book to be read cover to cover. Warning here, you will want to keep on reading, so I'd set aside ample time to tackle the book.
If you are a fan of the zombie apocalypse then rock on with Zombie Cities as it's the best graphic novel in the sub-genre published in Australia, or for that matter world-wide, this year. Fans of The Working Dead are going to in particular be rocking and rolling. If zombies aren't your thing I would still recommend you have a look as there's enough humour to carry you through the dark tales. Comic book fans should naturally dial in as Zombie Cities touches all the bases for that demographic.
Zombie Cities is available from Silver Fox Comics, where you can also get a decent view of some of the artwork on offer. No doubt the book will also turn up at all the usual places, amazon.com etc, if you can't find the book at your local comic emporium then demand they get it in.
To get you in the mood dial on into the preview below, hey we're running a public service here folks.