The latest entry in a darkly charming comic series set within a horror theme park run by all manner of monstrous characters, Arthur de Pins’ Zombillenium: Control Freaks (NBM) broadens the series beyond the park-bound concerns of its first two volumes. In volume three, we see the park’s backers, a consortium between a Hell demon named Behemoth and a group of greedy human financial supporters, have sent a consultant to tighten up operations. Said consultant, a ruthless vampire named Jaggar, is a former Louisiana slave owner (a tribute to Anne Rice, mayhaps?) whose first act is to overturn CEO Francis Von Bloodt’s edict that no customers will be slain in the park. To Jaggar, “The park is a pump . . . that sends money to the shareholders and souls to Behemoth.”
This sinister turn is met with comic passive aggression by the inhuman employees of the park, but since they’re under contract to Hell, their resistance will be tough going – particularly after Francis gets shoved out of his management position. At the same time, Gretchen, the young witch responsible for the death and transformation of the slacker demon Aurelian Zahner, is working on her own personal rebellion. Aiming to free her mother from bondage in Hell, she bonds with the depressed Zahner to overthrow Behemoth. “He’s a little rough around the edges,” she tells her mother, “but he’s the man for the job.” How that ultimately shakes out is a matter for later volumes, however.
Adobe Illustrated by de Pins with a bright expressiveness that frankly surprised me the first time I saw it, Zombillenium is a winning and energetic piece of graphic comedy. De Pins’ experience as an animator serves him particularly well in a sprightly middle sequence featuring an out-of-control roller coaster, flying demon Zahner and a skateboard/broomstick riding Gretchen, though there are plenty of droll smaller moments, too. (One of my favorites involves an accidental beheading by the amiable reaper Sirius.) Labeled for “mature readers,” this is not a comic series for kids, though YA readers with a suitably twisted sense of humor should take to a ghoulish satire where zombies have their own union and upper management sends memos from the bowels of Hell. Cynical and delightful, Zombillenium is the ideal series for those whose idea of a proper holiday movie is the one featuring that skeleton in the Santa hat.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1561639567,1561637343,1561638501]