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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ZombieWorld. Winter's Dregs and Other Stories. Dark Horse Books (2005)

This is a collection of four stories, one of which is absolutely outstanding, another excellent, the other two, while fine, suffer by comparison.
The title story, Winter's Dregs written by Bob Fingerman, art by Tommy Lee Edwards, Colours by Melissa Edwards and letters by John Workman, is astonishing. The large cast are introduced and established as credible individuals, from the Mayor of New York to a homeless man, then a zombie plague is unleashed. They all respond in surprising and unsurprising ways, they react like people in utterly insane situations probably would. The story is relentlessly grim and savage, the tension is driven to unbearable heights and the reader is completely involved in the actions of the cast. The ending is logical, savage, surprising and a genuine storytelling triumph.
Everything about this story work in harmony, the writing and structure of the narrative, the angular, often claustrophobic art, the subtle, dark palette of colours, the lettering that adds the volume and emphasis as required. This has the grip and grim force of the highest quality horror.
The two middle stories, Eat Your Heart out with story & art by Kelley Jones, colours by Stu Hiner and letters by Ken Bruzenak and Home For The Holidays written by Gordon Rennie, art by Gary Erskine, colours by Helen Bach, letters by Annie Parkhouse, suffer from similar problems. The central idea in each story is just not original enough in either case, nor are they pushed to any extreme that would pick up the slack. Both are well written, the art is lovely and the colours and letters are thoughtfully done and effective. They simply do not fly and suffer badly by comparison to the brutal brilliance of Winter's Dregs.
The final story, Tree of Death written by Pat Mills, art by J. Deadstock, colours by Dave Stewart and letters by Clem Robbins is essentially a direct sequel to the original Zombieworld story by Mike Mignola. This story explains why the zombie plague arose and the team working to remove it. Pat Mills is one of the best writers in comics and the story is fantastic. The details of the plot are a pleasure and the action is savage and blackly funny. The reveals are very well done and juicy, the secret behind the plague is not a let down. The art is mouthwatering, fluid and monstrous, the luscious colouring matches it with precision. The lettering is subtle and telling. Because the story is constrained by plot requirements it does not have the freedom enjoyed by Winter's Dregs, it is still a stunning achievement. Outstanding comics that prove even such a broken down cliche such as zombies only need the right talent to burst into dreadful,gripping,undead life again.

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