Thursday, December 15, 2005

Zombie Tales: Death Valley #1 - Making Cliches Work

Zombie Tales: Death Valley #1 has 170% of the FDA recommended amount of cliches. Yet, somehow, writer Johanna Stokes (working on a story by Andrew Cosby) makes the comic work. It is not a GREAT comic, but it is still much more fun than can reasonably be expected with the premise given (a bunch of stereotypes get stuck in a bomb shelter, and when they exit, find themselves to be the only ones NOT zombies in the whole area). Of course, seeing as how it is seven bucks, it is perfectly reasonable for you to expect MORE than just a fun comic. But if you're just curious how such a premise got to be a fun comic, read on!

First off, look how fun the cover is!

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What a great job by Kaare Andrews!!

The comic does NOT get off to a great start, especially the art by Rhoald Marcellus. There is this panel shaped like a gun as the female lead fires a pistol at a firing range. It is the sort of "cute" idea that really is not cute at all, but more like annoying. And there are some painful depictions of the girl's father, as he leaves on business with the Army amidst some strained relations with his daughter (partially by the fact that he still thinks bringing a teen girl to the firing range is fun).

However, Marcellus gets MUCH better when he gets to draw the other teen characters. It is actually kinda funny, as his art gets much more relaxed when he changes the location to high school. A lot of cute kids.

In any event, the basic gist is as I told you, six "cool" kids (three boys and three girls) get accidentally trapped in a bomb shelter by one "nerd" at the same time that a solar flare turns everyone in the area into zombies. They then must escape and try to go somewhere safe while it's light (zombies are afraid of light), and various hijinx ensue along the way (and cast members get killed).

The way that Cosby and Stokes get past their cliched characters is by enfusing the book with a WHOLE lot of charm. From the depictions of what each character would buy when they are getting supplies, to the discussions each character has with each other ABOUT each other and WITH each other, you get to really enjoy these teens, even if they are cut with a pretty broad stroke (although it IS highly irritating that we never learn the name of one of the girls, and she is on the cover!!!). Oh, and the lead male character has the same name as a top Washington Nationals prospect. Just mentioning that, in case you were curious...hehe.

Cosby and Stokes also managed to wring a few surprises out of the situation as well, such as the kids getting trapped in a pet store filled with zombie-fied pets. Some good stuff there.

Finally, the ending of the book is letter perfect. It captures the sadness of knowing not a lot about the stereotypical characters (as we learn something about a dead friend) along with the quiet desperation of someone ready to try something daring. And it is a funny line to boot!

So yeah, Zombie Tales: Death Valley #1 is a fun ride. It is up to you whether "fun ride" is enough to get your seven bucks.

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Blogger Christopher Burton said...

(a bunch of stereotypes get stuck in a bomb shelter, and when they exit, find themselves to be the only ones NOT zombies in the whole area).

Something else that would've been cool: if they'd been the only ones who *were* zombies when they emerged from the shelter. Weird.

12/15/2005 03:37:00 PM  

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