Monday, October 05, 2009

I Care Only for the Living (No Pull Quotes this Time)

I hate zombie stories.

Well, hate is a strong word since there have been one or two that I enjoy, but I don't like them. It's not a subgenre that I'm interested in at all. I find the metaphor obvious and not really compelling. The death that overcomes us all; everyone around us a reminder that we all die; death gaining power because of our emotional attachments to others; the idea that the dead remain with us always, feeding off of us; what else am I missing? The point is: I get it and zombies aren't exactly the most sophisticated of ways at exploring these concepts than braindead living dead people that feast on others. Christ, even writing that bored me.

Add to that: I don't mind people sending me stuff to review (as long as they understand that sending me something means that: A) I may not read it B) I may read it but not review it C) I may review it but not for CBR), but I oddly mind it when it's someone I know. I don't like having personal connections to people who are sending me things to review -- it takes away that distance that I like. Really, that distance that makes calling something an unreadable piece of shit comfortable. But, I made the mistake of reviewing a previous work he sent me (on behalf of one of his friends) for CBR... and, ask my girlfriend or my editor, I didn't enjoy doing that. I didn't feel comfortable criticising the book as harshly as I wanted. So, when he sent me two more comics to review, I put it off and tried to ignore that I was sent them at all. But, he kept pushing and pushing and pushing and pushing, so here it is.

Dead Future #1-2

These two comics contain three zombie stories in each. None of the stories rise above the level of mediocre. That's the short version. Long(er) version below the jump.

"Real Monsters" is the most interesting of the stories, done in a style that combines art and photos, effects used to create zombies. However, even visually, it never rises above a certain level, more enamoured with the style than actually getting the message across. In a zombie-infested world, a woman goes out for supplies, emphasising that not disturbing the routine is one of the most important rules. During the day, the zombies go about the business of their old lives and are docile if you don't interrupt things. Somehow, something gets interrupted... and, because the art is unclear, I'm not sure what. The story continues and it's revealed that the woman is batshit insane in a 'twist' ending.

They're all 'twist' endings, by the way. Every one of them... except maybe one of them, but I can't remember how it ends because it was so bad that I stopped reading it part way through. Something about zombies in the 15th century and it was very, very boring.

In between the first story and the boring story is one that's based, partly, around David Bowie lyrics. "Space Oddity" and an astronaut by the name of Major Tom. Oh ho ho. While in space, the zombies kill everyone and he has to watch, keeping the news from his fellow astronauts as their supplies run out. The art is fairly competent albeit not wholly aethetically pleasing. The end of the story is obvious. The actual conflict is mundane, avoiding the more interesting question: what would it be like to be in orbit and watch footage of the world falling apart thanks to a zombie outbreak? What would that be like exactly? Add to that the dwindling supplies and the others on board... that we never see... and there was a chance in that idea for the exploration of the human psyche in the face of one fucked up situation. But, instead, we got 'oh no, there are zombies in the supply shuttle, humanity is doomed' at the end.

The second issue isn't any better with one story that spends 95% of it explaining how the zombie outbreak happened. Here's a spoiler: JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER FUCKING ZOMBIE OUTBREAK! Does that need explaining at this point in time? Does anyone not understand how these things happen? That story progresses to another 'twist' ending that is bleak and unoriginal.

The second story has small children killing zombies. If you find that idea entertaining in and of itself, then, hey, this is for you. If you actually want some entertainment beyond that one sentence pitch, look elsewhere. The kids have no personalities, the art is cute at times but not always, the actual action is lame and muted, the end is unclear and not really anything that casts what came before in a new light.

The final story is pointless. Zombies kill a family. The end.

On the weekend, I mentioned I am Legend, a zombie flick (however altered, it's a zombie flick) and I enjoyed that one quite a bit, mostly because it was a character study that explored what that situation would do to a man. It didn't offer any new ideas on the broader concept, it just delivered an interesting, complex look at a guy living in an empty city. The first story of Dead Future #2 has a man in the same situation, but does nothing with it. Do we really need more fucking zombie stories that don't do anything? That offer nothing but mindless violence? I know it's a simple metaphor, but can we actually engage it a little?

There, review written, zombie comics read and discussed. No pull quotes this time.

[Note: I didn't mention names because I didn't want to dump on these people in such an obvious way. It's not hard to find out the info, but I didn't want to provide it here. My one concession.]