When you hear the words “Image” and “zombies” in the same sentence most comic fans immediately think of Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead. But what if I told you that there was a new undead champ in town from the very same publisher that has ridden high on the undead bandwagon for so long?
This series takes all of the human drama that has made TWD so successful and sprinkled in dabs of horror that would feel right at home in the Stephen King classic, “The Stand”. Part flesh-eating nightmare; part pandemic; part Southern Americana—this series takes the better parts of survival horror and mixes it with a healthy dose of high-octane drama.
The comic is centered on the small Florida town of Willow. The world is living in a post-pandemic society; where insects introduced a virus into the environment that turns regular folks into flesh craving “zombies”… but the infected are not the traditional zombies as fans have come to know them. Those that are infected retain their minds. They think, they feel, they know that what they are doing is wrong.
Just below the surface of the text is an allegory about addiction. It easy to see how Buccellato and Young tied this tale in the regret and remorse of how a fully functional human being can become a walking monster with a one-track mind to “consume” more of their substance of choice. In that respect all of us can identify with the hunger for more be it food, sex, drugs, etc. We all give in to our desires. The shame that comes from that fall from grace is enough to make the mightiest of us cower in fear and disgust.
Just imagine if that desire was the uncontrollable urge to consume living flesh. Imagine the shame and disgust that you would feel if you ever gave in. Imagine if you gave in around your family, your children, your spouse.
The writers of this series take a passionate moment between two lovers and turn it into a living nightmare; as Danny is bitten by his lover in the heat of the moment. His reaction has dire consequences, but not as dire as the effects of the disease that has been passed on to him.
Danny Hansen and his brother Grady are the focus of the series, but this is a comic that could easily stretch out and spread its cast as far as its fictional virus. The story is contained in this small Florida town at the moment, but I don’t think it would take much to take this tale on the road to see how the entire country is dealing with this new plague.
The storytelling is tight. You can almost smell the swamp and hear the bayou music as we watch these small town yokels try to grasp the magnitude of the situation that they are dealing with. If you are a fan of the setting of the South in “True Blood” then you’ll be digging this.
The characters are well-defined and the story is extremely engrossing. In only a couple of pages you’ll find yourself reeled into the action. Even if you have never read this series before, the story and the characters are compelling enough to hook you.
The real winner of this series is the artist. This is my first exposure to Matias Bergara and I pray that it will not be my last. Bergara’s artwork is something to behold. It’s a mixture of cartoon simplicity meets modern comic animation. The closest comparison that I can come up with is Mark Buckingham of Fables fame.
This comic has the ability to really take hold if the readership turns out for it. So far I’m impressed with this title and the creators involved and will definitely be checking this book out again. Final Score: 4 out of 5 Stars
Story: Jennifer Young and Brian Buccellato
Art: Matias Bergara
Colors: B. Buccellato
Letters: Troy Peteri