"You crazy commies! A zombie army! Here in Moscow? Out in the open!" - Vladimir Putin
Sorab Del Rio and Silver Fox Comics are back with their second graphic novel set in a universe where a zombie plague is sweeping around the planet. We're not yet facing an apocalypse but some insane regimes are on the brink of ushering it in. While some Countries are embracing the zombie hordes others have their fingers on buttons ready to launch a nuclear solution. In Del Rio's universe the zombies are not necessarily the villains if they can keep at least a hint of their humanity.
The book contains six stories as well as a number of pinups to whet your appetite for undead shenanigans. While some of the stories sort of fit into a loose narrative other stories are stand alone, but all share the common theme of viewing zombies from different perspectives. Yes I know sounds like the sort of socialist thinking that has lead to combat weapons being banned from Starbucks but what are you going to do, damn peaceniks are everywhere folks. Let's walk amongst the undead and see what tales of mayhem Sorab Del Rio has sent us with this publication.
Guess I'll get the tech side of the review out of the way up front then we can talk about the good stuff, the actual stories and art. Silver Fox Comics have gone with the traditional U.S comic book size so no surprises there however the book has been printed in Australia, which for mine was pretty cool as we need more printing going to local agencies rather than being syphoned off to various Asian Countries. For your reading pleasure, you aren't just going in for the pictures right? - there are 104 pages to devour. Everything is in full glorious colour making Zombie Cities a delight to browse or read, whatever approach you are taking. Paper quality is excellent and the reproduction is crisp and easy to both view and read. All round a package that would not be out of place being released by a New York publishing house.
To the stories themselves, quite the menagerie to be honest though with interlocking themes and ideas being presented that will keep the reader on his/her toes. In Del Rio's universe zombies are not just flesh devouring monsters, if feed a diet of brains they retain a shred of humanity making them relatively safe for inclusion in human society. Hey I've got nothing against zombies but I wouldn't want one moving in next door y'all!
Reprising from the first Zombie Cities graphic novel Aussie reporter Sidney St James is in Rio still after her first interview with a zombie, talk about getting your Anne Rice on! Sidney may be in luck as local racing legend Antonio has been resurrected from the dead via some voodoo. I'm just thankfully for the citizens of Rio that there wasn't a Good Guy Doll anywhere in the near vicinity. Anyways, and I'll try to stay on target, the first story "My Zombie, My Hero" sets the tone for the rest of the book as well as previewing the stories coming our way. "Zombogue" hits the cat walks of Paris, and has a well aimed swipe at a certain reality television star. Fashion is an ideal target for mine and Del Rio lets the industry have it with both barrels. Surprisingly "The Exodus" shows the spiritual side of the whole zombie thing, and introduces us to the notion that China is imploding somehow with news being cut off and a zombie march out of the Country underway. Things become clearer in "Zodka, Nukes, Aliens, Commies and Yes We Can Blow Up Whatever We Want", Del Rio just opens up like a T20 batsmen taking aim on the United States, Russia, and China in a strafing of the lifeboats approach. Pure genius having Barrack Obama portrayed as a weapons loving President with his finger on the nuclear button, you can't trust those Yanks folks. Things get a bit more in the 'hood with "Let The Zombie Play Ball", a story I enjoyed for what it was, a home spun tale of zombies, gangsters, and basketball. And finally the prize at the bottom of the barrel, the excellently insane "Blazing Antlers" that not only has a Zombified Canadian Mountie but also a beer guzzling Zombified Moose, and to top it off a Werewolf. Oh hell yeah, anyone else high fiving their imaginary friends!
Got to say that Del Rio fellow has one sick imagination, which we kind of appreciate around here. The stories are well written, build a mythology that had me smiling, and are pretty unique in going the subversive path in taking aim at society. Now that is what defines very good horror for mine, two thumbs up to Sorab Del Rio for keeping me as entertained as a tween chick at a One Direction concert.
While I would like to define the art throughout the book, it pretty much is an impossibility due to the numerous Artists showing their abilities. I kind of got a Saturday morning cartoon feel from the book, with outstanding panels that really captured the pace of the various scripts. Also appreciated were the excellent pinups that would make great tees. Just a thought there, the tee market isn't really that hot at the moment Downunder for speculative images. Where was I, okay the art is excellent with some real talent on display. Australia is currently very well served by our comic book illustrators, no wonder we have a bumper crop of publications currently. If you want to dial into the state of the art then Zombie Cities is your go to place.
Overall I had a really good time with the second Zombie Cities release and have no hesitation in recommending the book to all Readers. I'm assuming here you dig comics else why else would you be reading? It's a romp of a read with excellent artwork, what more do you need?
Zombie Cities Violence vs Compassion is available from Silver Fox Comics and will set you back $30 (includes P&H in Australia). For OS Readers contact the site for costing and postage options. Okay I'm out of here; I'm going to read the book again.