May 29, 2011

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Great Zombies in History 1 to 3

Written by Various Writers
Illustrated by Various Artists
Elevator Pitch Press

I don't remember when the zombie craze got re-started, but now that it's here, like zombies themselves, the desire to put them in books, comics, and movies seems like it will never die, not unlike the lifeless mockeries themselves.

Generally speaking, I am a bit zombied out. While I tend to be willing to give most things zombie a try, it takes some work to get me to like it. You can't just have zombies and expect me to like your story. There has to be a hook, a new twist of some kind, to get me to care. Heck, the hook doesn't even have to be original--it just has to be interesting.

That's where this series from Elevator Pitch Press comes in. It's a zombie anthology comic, which of course we've seen before in a number of iterations. But this time there's a twist that's not exactly original, but its certainly interesting.

According to the premise, there are things missing from our history books, stories within the tales we all know so very well, that our teachers and historians just don't want us to know. They are the stories of the great zombies in history. Working both for good and evil, these zombies eat at the tales you thought you knew.

That's a spectacular idea for an anthology series, at least for me, because I like history and I like zombies. It provides a wide variety of settings and premises, meaning that old zombie tropes can be given new life by changing up the setting and characters. It also means Zombie George Washington, and while I wish he'd have been drawn a bit better, it is really hard not to get excited about a comic that adds another layer to the legend of the Father of Our Country. ("I cannot tell a lie. I crave human flesh," never gets used, however, which is a shame because it would have been *awesome.*)

The premise is certainly exciting, but how is the execution? Not too bad, actually. Sometimes when reading comics from extremely small publishers, the art is thin. That's not the case here. Editor Rob Anderson has done a good job of finding people who can actually draw, especially in the first two issues. There's a splash page in issue one (which tells the story of the 300 fighting off a zombie horde run by Xeres) by DaFu Yu that I lingered over for several minutes, looking at all the details packed into the page. Yu is definitely the best artist in these three issues, but Leandro Panganibon, Antonio Bifulco, and Richard P. Clark also do a good job with their pieces as well.
The stories, too, are actually a bit better than I expected. It's hard to tell a good story in only a few pages, and the only complaint I have here is that I don't think comics like this one (and Boom! Studio's Zombie Tales) need to try and shove three stories into every issue. It's okay for an anthology comic to only have two stories, especially if they are strong ones. I liked the fact that each of these tales set things within a recognizable historical context, and even made a few interesting choices, such as to pick a lonely time in Roosevelt's life or to place a fight in the middle of the War of 1812. There's even a brief explanation in the table of contents, in case a reader doesn't know the history behind the alternative history. That's a nice touch.

Of all the stories, my personal favorite was the one about the cosmonaut. Kevin D. Lintz sets up an idea (we don't know what we're messing with in space) and executes it in a way that tells both a complete story and would allow for more, if anyone was so inclined. It's from the second issue, which definitely is the strongest of the three. If you want to pick one issue up as a sample, I'd suggest that one. The other two stories feature Zombie Washington and Teddy Roosevelt, Zombie Fighter, both of which are also quite good.

Zombie stories are a tricky thing to do right. They certainly don't appeal to everyone, and those who have problems with gore won't like these comics at all, but then again, they probably knew that from the word "zombie." Those with an affinity for the undead are in for a treat, however, as this is a strong entry into the zombie comic field. I'm definitely looking forward to more issues of this anthology, whenever they come out.