I've been wanting to read a good zombie comic for quite sometime. There a few good ones around but they are well established so catching up would take sometime. When I heard about Antarctic Press' The Last Zombie I was instantly intrigued and eager to read the first issue from writer Brian Keene.
The Last Zombie starts off with a forward from Brian Keene which states that this is not a story about dying, its about living', and it asks the question "what happens when the dead die…again?" This instantly helps to separate The Last Zombie from the countless other zombie stories that are out there. Very few deal with the end of the apocalypse when there is a chance that life may continue and be able to rebuild itself.
In The Last Zombie, the remaining members of the American armed forces and government are faced with such a scenario. A zombie apocalypse, which caused chaos and destruction across the country for several years, appears to be over. In a worrying sign though one of the bunkers, which was used to protect high profile people, has gone offline. If the threat is supposedly over, why haven't they responded?
It's a premise that instantly draws your interest and gets your mind racing. What could survive a zombie apocalypse — something worse? Plus there's that real sense of mystery and fear as to whether it's really over, whether the zombies are really gone. They are largely running off satellite photos that suggest it's over but make it hard to work out what the situation is actually like. Then there's real heart to the story as Dr. Scott's fiance is in the offline bunker and he desperately wants to know what's happened to her.
What also helps to sell the story are the characters. Even though it's largely military personnel there's a lot of personality and emotion in the characters, almost a sense of easing up on the authority and discipline because of the situation they are in. The team of soldiers who rescue Dr. Scott are instantly likable, and their banter is funny and wildly optimistic in what I presume is an attempt to keep their spirits up in such a terrible situation. After only one issue, where they appear for only half the issue, I already don't want any of them to die. Planters is an early favorite and I loved his line when he's on the machine gun "Ok folks…I'm going to have to ask you to disperse. Remain calm! All is well! Please move along! There's nothing to eat here!"
There's something about Joel Wight's art, and his use of black and white, which make it instantly feel like an apocalypse. It's like the loss of color helps signify that loss of hope after a great tragedy has occurred. As the General says, "civilization as we knew it is long dead," and its almost like the taking away of color signifies that. The artwork is solid', and the zombies on the first few pages look typically scary and disgusting, with the pencil lines making it look like they have stuff dripping of their faces. I like the way that in a lot of the panels the background is a block color or not very detailed, meaning the focus remains on the character.
The Last Zombie was just what I was looking for, and I'd hazard a guess it'll be what a lot of people are looking for to. It takes something we are all very familiar with, a zombie apocalypse, and tries to do something different with it. For that reason alone I'd be sold, but Keene and Wight have also crafted some memorable characters and great artwork to make this a great read.