Excerpt from review copy:
Matt Naismith is a college sophomore. He’s recently been paired (as a lab partner) with the girls of his dreams, K.T. Delaney. With the help of his friends and resident advisor, Will Simers, Matt hopes to win the heart of the fair K.T. Unfortunately for Matt, Will needs a little help with his graduate thesis…
Zombie Outlaw Issue #1 by writer Brian J. Apocada and B. Paul Jordan was a real mixed bag of a read for me. While I enjoy pieces of the artwork and the ideas that were presented in the book and its attempts at giving a fresher look at the zombie genre, I have some very specific qualms with how the story pans out and exactly what it is supposed to entail.
Tonally, this book doesn’t know what it wants to be. It sets the stage as your atypical college, wrought with young (and horny) coeds yet splices in violent depictions of zombie fights. While the fight scenes were tremendously engrossing, visually appealing and well put together graphically, I found it difficult to transition from a comedic college classic tale to an action-packed zombie thriller within the confines of this short first issue. I found the book rather unclear in its message and direction, leaving me as a reader, puzzled at the end of the first issue, instead of excited for more.
This unclear nature echoes my main problem with the writing of the story, which concerns the unexplained, randomly placed plot elements throughout the book. As an example, one of our heroes, Will Simers, upon finding the zombie corpse he has been hunting, professes, “This could be the key to landing that internship!” , a motivation which wasn’t made clear in any part of the story leading up to that point, making it extremely difficult to assess Will as a character. We don’t know where he is coming from, thought-wise, and while this could be used to paint him as a carefree adventurer with a hidden agenda, it just comes off as annoying and unrealistic. Another example is the ending of the first book, which states, “So it begins again!” What begins? How is this curse repetitious? Very little of the zombie part of this book is explained and while it meets the minimum requirement to peak someone’s interest, it makes you wonder how long we might get strung along on small bites of information. The book suffers dearly from unexplained plot devices, character elements and just a general coherent story all together. We don’t know much about these characters, their school, the legend of Dransby or much of anything, which didn’t help me to develop any emotional attachment to the story. It feels as though it is trying to be so much at once that it loses all of its key elements and meaning in the final product, which is unfortunate.
Just to briefly cover the artwork, I felt mixed about it as well. As I mentioned beforehand, the scenes depicting zombies or any Dransby back-story artwork come off as fantastically crafted. They elicit a wonderful sense of fear, confusion and general creepiness that goes along well with the subject matter, however, the rest of the artwork takes a bit getting used to. The characters all sport larger than life forearms and are oddly proportioned all around, often changing shape as the story progressed. I understand the artwork is meant to create a bright, fun and cartoony depiction but I found this to be disorienting as it created inconsistency across the book. As my one glaring example, when Will is introduced, he has very apparent bags under his eyes and definitive cheekbones that just seem to disappear on the next page and then reappears pages later.
To wrap things up, as much as I have picked at this book, I firmly believe that it has a lot of potential to either find its footing or change itself completely. What initially attracted me to this book is the idea of becoming a zombie as a part-time curse, rather than a full-time, can’t-come-back-from-it change. I think it is fresh, great build on the pre-existing zombie material and setting the story in a college environment is smart. I would just encourage the duo to pick a direction and stay with it because I think they could have something really good on their hands.
A review copy was supplied by the author. For more information on where to purchase the book, please visit the Comixpress link (which can be found here) or contact Brian J. Apocada via Twitter: @Capn_Midnight