Friday, 13 February 2009
‘The Mammoth Book of Zombie Comics’ – Edited by David Kendall (Constable and Robinson)
Is there anything better than a zombie comic? Up until Christmas I would have had to say no, surely there could be nothing better than a comic teeming with zombies all out to devour our beleaguered heroes and heroines? Christmas morning saw me proved wrong though. There is one thing that’s far better than a zombie comic… a huge book brimming with zombie comics…
David Kendall has collected eighteen zombie tales and there’s something in this collection for everyone.
When I say ‘something for everyone’ what I’m also saying is that, perhaps inevitably, there were stories that didn’t quite cut it for me. The inclusion of ‘Necrotic: Dead Flesh on a Living Body’ offers up the argument that there isn’t much difference between a zombie and a mummy, both are undead after all… That’s as maybe, and it is certainly a fun story, but the bottom line (as far as I’m concerned) is that there is a world of difference between a zombie and a mummy… With that in mind ‘Necrotic’ just felt out of place and like it should have been in another collection entirely.
‘Flight from Earth’ is another tale that doesn’t quite hit the mark, especially when compared to the high standard of other tales in the book. Zombies in space are a pretty cool concept but zombies that can fly spaceships? Zombies can’t do anything except stumble around and eat people…
‘Pigeons from Hell’ is a classic Robert E. Howard horror story and the artwork here is brooding and chilling at the same time. It’s a shame then that the publisher forgot to include the words… Warning: If you’re thinking of buying this book then this is definitely something you need to look out for (apparently this mistake will be corrected in later editions).
On the whole though, ‘The Mammoth Book of Zombie Comics’ offered up a lot of stuff that I completely got into. I prefer my zombies to be mindless shambling shells but I’m cool to look at the alternatives and this collection offers plenty of these.
Not only can some zombies run but some of them can talk as well; in particular the zombies in Matthew Shepherd’s ‘Dead Eyes Open’, an interesting look at a future where death is seen more as a disability (especially if you’re a zombie!) than the final frontier. There are some interesting legal points (over the rights of the recently returned dead) that make for some pondering…
It’s not so much the zombies themselves that are the main attraction (although fans of gore will love certain scenes) as the human survivors who must make their way through this post apocalyptic landscape. This collection offers up some insights into just what people will do to survive if pushed hard enough. Kieron Gillen’s ‘Zombies’ takes this to its ultimate conclusion and asks whether there is much of difference between ‘us and them’ after all.
Jon Ayre’s ‘Pariah’ asks the question of whether it’s worse to be eaten by a zombie or to be left all alone as the last survivor… Gary Crutchley’s ‘Job Satisfaction’ concludes that surviving in a zombie apocalypse is just a job like any other (borrowing heavily from the ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake)…
The main element to any zombie story is that of ‘shock’ and ‘The Mammoth Book of Zombie Comics’ certainly comes up with the goods here. The terror that is the finale of Steve Niles’ ‘Making Amends’ is only the start. Each of the stories is good in this respect but Mark Bloodworth’s ‘Amy’, Stuart Kerr’s ‘Black Sabbath’ and Stephen Blue’s ‘Zombie World: Dead End’ (my personal favourite of the whole book) are the ones that stand out.
The bottom line is that if you’re a fan of zombie comics then there will be something in this book for you. I’m glad that I have a copy, pick one up yourself and you’ll be glad too (watch out for the ‘Pigeons from Hell’ story though…)
Eight and a Half out of Ten