‘Undead End #1’ Comic Review
Undead End #1 is the first issue of an independent horror comic, published by Last Chance Comics, with story and art by Jason Wright. Set in the small town of Rockaway, it initially shows us the rather wasted life of the main character Dean, who has recently graduated from high school and seems to be doomed to stay stuck in the small town of his birth. The book slowly takes us through his work day as a pizza delivery man and introduces the reader to various denizens of Rockaway. Among them are his boss, Mr. Franco, his best friend Nolan, and former football hero Scott. As the story progresses, a number of the characters have encounters with an Army convoy that is moving through the town, apparently headed for a long-closed Army base near the outskirts of town. The convoy’s mysterious cargo is far more important than any of the citizens of Rockaway know, and it will soon put the town dead center in a virulent outbreak of the undead.
Wright’s real strengths are both his dialogue and in depicting the interactions between various members of this small town, people who have known each other for their entire lives. He also takes the time to introduce the setting thoroughly, and the pace of the first issue is not rushed in the slightest, making it an easy read. With the natural flow of conversation within the story and the everyday appeal of the characters, the story could easily cut away the zombie outbreak and still remain enjoyable reading as a depiction of small-town life. When the undead do rear their heads, the characters reactions are plausible, the deaths suitably gruesome, and the chaos of the situation well rendered. As a side note, these thoughts about the story are coming from someone who is almost entirely burned out on the whole zombie-outbreak genre of fiction. Take that as you will, but a great amount of craft has gone into this story, enough so that I can put aside my usual feelings for said genre and sit back to enjoy the story’s events as they come. Jason’s writing is highly appreciated.
Remember what I said about disliking the current state of zombie fiction? You should, as I just said it in the above paragraph. I usually feel the same way about the style of art employed in this release. You know the type, heavy linework, minimal shading and use of shadow; character design that hovers between the realistic and the cartoonish. In this instance, however, I feel that Jason’s style totally fits the story he’s telling. His panel composition works well, the emotions of the various characters are well rendered, and the sense of movement in the action sequences are also well done. The same time, detail, and talent employed in the writing is also displayed in the artwork. Although it’s not my favorite style of art it’s still well done work, and I found myself enjoying it even more after a couple of rereads. Wright seems to be a real double threat, impressing with both his writing and his artwork. Good stuff.
All in all, there’s a good amount contained within this release to enjoy. Writing and artwork go hand-in-hand to create a unified vision, and the end product is an enjoyable one. It may start out a little slow for zombie fans craving a high dosage of brains in their diet, but stick with it. It’s a very nice start to an ongoing series–one that draws you in with its overall craft, not with buckets of blood. Hopefully Jason continues to put out a high-quality series, as this is something that stands out in the overcrowded zombie genre. I’ll definitely be following the series, and many kudos to the writer/artist/creator on this well put-together release.