Night of the Living Dead may not be regarded as one of the great horror movies of all time, but this cult classic started a genre that has exploded into pop culture phenomena. Naturally, the property has seen attention in multiple media outlets, now including comics! Double Take has created a whole universe around the film and are currently producing 10 titles exploring this universe. These aren’t directly related to the events of the movie, but rather reference it as the stories unfold in real-time. One of these titles is Z-Men, which I had the opportunity to review.
Two government agents are assigned to stop undead rebels from attacking power plants in Pennsylvania. They have Deputy Tills in tow, who has recently been killed and is beginning to become an asset in the post-life. After breaking into one of these power plants, the ties to aliens starts to unfold. As Agent Stuart gets the grand tour with a gun to his head, Agent Clancy and Deputy Tills are on the run and end up flushed down a pipe leading into the plant itself!
I had several problems with this comic, almost entirely on the plot and writing side of things. The art was alright, even if the faces of all the characters were emotionless and lacking dimension. The panel structure was confusing at times, especially in digital format, because instead to telling the story a page at a time, the story is told in two linear strips (one on top of the other) that rarely relate directly to one another. This causes the narrative to feel choppy because the thoughts never feel complete before switching to the other “strip”. Imagine reading two books simultaneously and switching between them every other paragraph. It feels like that.
Also, this comic about the dead rising lack all common signs of a zombie comic. They are sentient, mostly coherent, totally composed corpses with no hunger for human flesh/brains. Did they miss the memo about this being related to Living Dead? Because the lack of anything remotely zombie-fied took the air out of my sails. The agents even smoke marijuana with the undead deputy slobbering in the back seat. What the hell. In addition to that, they decided to include aliens in the story as an explanation of the importance of the power plants. Only, the biggest reference I could find about anything extraterrestrial was a reference to Roswell. Seriously, that’s it.
Oh, one more thing. Whoever did the overall comic layout for this needs to read “Comics for Dummies” because they single-handedly kill whatever momentum this comic has by placing PSA’s and editorial articles in the middle of the action. It’s like “we interrupt your scheduled comic book reading to remind you that student loan debt is at all time highs and to give an anecdote by the assistant editor” and the next page is a military jeep exploding. I literally forgot what was happening to cause said explosion. They also have two pages in every title’s fifth issue dedicated to reprinting the cover art for every single issue thus far. That’s 50 unnecessary comic covers used as filler. Word to the wise: throw all that crap to the back of the comic where it belongs.
I can’t say this is the worst comic I’ve ever read, because there are a few redeeming qualities, like coloring, various action scenes, and choice dialogue. I will say this lack fluidity of pace and structure, and that the writing severely lacks. Sorry, but this should’ve stayed dead.
Meh, 2 out of 5 Stars
(W) Jeff McComsey (A) Kurt Tiede (CA) Ruiz Burgos