Horror Comics: "Zombie Terrors"

“Zombie Terrors” #1, May 2012
Writers: Frank Forte ”Beheaded”, Royal McGraw “Feast”, Doug Williams “Hate”
Artists: Frank Forte “Beheaded”, Adauto Silva “Feast”, Doug Williams “Hate”
Publisher: Asylum Press

Anthology formats are a double edged sword in comic books. The cons are that there’s normally not an ongoing story with returning characters, and only a limited amount of space to tell a tale. The pros are the reader gets to sample different themes and art in each issue. In “Zombie Terrors” #1’s case, all three segments are wildly different from each other in both art styles and writing , only sharing zombies as a tying theme.

“Beheaded” starts the comic on a satisfyingly gory note. A hillbilly stereotype lays waste to several zombies with a shotgun and a machete. The redneck decapitates one of the zombies, but leaves the brain intact in order to add it to a truly impressive living dead trophy room. The conclusion is a bit predictable, and the bible thumping hick trope has been worn thin, but this tale is told on rapid fire and it’s mostly good fun. Frank Forte’s artwork shines in this piece; it’s sort of the comic book equivalent to Troma film special effects, which are not very realistic, but are colorful, explosive and over the top.

The middle tale, “Feast”, switches gears to give us a story about a society that has adjusted to a zombie epidemic. In the city of New Tokyo, a chef has managed to open a successful restaurant, but after his brother incurs a massive gambling debt, he is forced to prepare a new delicacy for a mob boss: Kanibaru, which is flesh of a zombie served raw. It’s a fresh idea that manages to add something new to a sub-genre that seems at times to be maxed out. This is the longest story in the issue, but the pacing is well done, and the art has a linear, almost EC comics feel to it. It’s a nice mash-up of pulpy crime story and zombies.

“Hate” finishes off this first issue on a dark note. Told from the perspective of a zombie hordes’ collective consciousness, the reader gets an idea of the internal thoughts of the living dead. As one might imagine, that’s not going to be a very upbeat point of view. This is the shortest piece, clocking in at three pages, but it leaves a lasting impression. Doug Williams manages to give us some sparse internal narrative that is both grim and melodramatic, and his artwork (each panel is painted) is vivid.

“Zombie Terrors” was originally published as a graphic novel back in 2010, and the first five issues of the digital version of “Zombie Terrors” will be re-issues of that anthology. However, starting from issue #6 going forward it will feature all new content. It’s available on Comixology, Comics+ (Iverse), Graphicly, Diamond Digital and with stand alone apps and epubs on KindleFire, Nook, Kobo, ibookstore, and Googlebooks.

“Zombie Terrors” #1 isn’t a homerun, but there’s enough good stuff here to make me curious about the next issue, and the ongoing series.

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