Category Archives: zombies

The Walking Dead – more cover art glory. Issues 50, 51 & 52

Oh my gosh. As the Kirkman/Adlard Zombie epic ‘The Walking Dead’ rushes breathlessly to the closing stages of its latest story arc, we have 3 future issues to speculate over. At least we know one thing with these future covers – Image are still going to be publishing The Walking Dead beyond the ‘No-one is safe’ arc (as if it was in doubt). Currently at issue 47, with 48 due in the next couple of weeks, we have seen deaths of major characters in a way that is probably unprecedented for a major comic book series. Kirkman is unafraid to challenge readers perceptions of what a comic book delivers. The cliffhanger from issue 47 suggests a shocking denouement to ‘No-one is safe’ that will radically alter the relationship dynamics between the surviving characters, and thrust some of the cast onto the centre stage. It is all very exciting, and I can honestly say that it is the best comic book on the market right now, even better than 100 Bullets or The Exterminators or The Goon.

I care about this book, its a monthly(ish) highlight, and when you have spent the 15 minutes or so reading it, you immediately want more. Those readers who just get the trades really miss an important element of the series – the fantastic cliffhangers, followed by the next issue cover printed on the inside back cover, which gives way to the longing for the next issue/fix (can last 3 weeks, can be 2 months, but is always painful in the best possible way).

Anyway, as I did in a post a few months back, let us look at the great work Charlie Adlard does with the cover art;

Issue 50

Brilliant – a gatefold cover that really hammers home the peril that Carl is in. As in the previous issues cover, Kirkman & Adlard are strongly suggesting that Rick Grimes’ young son is going to be the focus of the next few issues at least. He appears to be surrounded and alone, but his posture suggests strength and maturity. He has certainly learned well from his dad on how to hold a pistol correctly, as a wave of the undead bear down on him. Who else would think to put a kid with a pistol on the cover of a ‘mature readers’ comicbook – and get away with it?

Issue 51

Zombie attack from the P.O.V. of the soon-to-be-victim. What we can assume from issues 50 & 51 is that the zombies are BACK. Away from the ‘safety behind bars’, we are being assured that regardless of the end of the last story arc, no-one is safe. Whoever belongs to those hands is certainly not safe. The perspective here, seeing the attack from the point of view of the victim, is in marked contrast to the top down view of issue 50, where we have a full view of Carl and can see his determined posture. The perspective shown in issue 51 is another recurring motif of the series – the ‘tease’ cover. In issue 49, Rick is shown in a shambling Zombie type pose, his face obscured by shadow, the suggestion being he is infected. We are ‘teased’ with the suggestion that the hero is with us, but in a radically altered way. With issue 51 we know that someone is about to be devoured by the undead, but who is it? The fact there are two hands outstretched in a defensive pose certainly rules out Rick…….

Issue 52

Probably the most intriguing and thrilling of all three of the covers. We can now assume that Carl survives the onslaught from issue 50…. Apart from that, what I love about this cover is the tease – it looks like the Katana that belongs to Michonne, and whoever is holding it looks to be threatening Carl (the tightly clenched fist around the Katanas handle, the way the blade seems to be raised towards the young boy). Who could it be? The Governer? Michonne? If it’s Michonne, why would she be threatening Carl? You can see Rick Grimes son put his hand over his gun, but the facial expression, though one of surprise, is not one of fear….

So many questions. These covers, superbly rendered by Ardlard, pose as many questions as the clues they give us to what could be happening in the future. With Kirkman seemingly on top of things with publishing deadlines on this series, we should find the answers to all these things and more in the next few months.

Walking Dead covers 1 to 30

The Walking Dead at Wikipedia

Robert Kirkmans site

The Last Stand

Being a fan of all things Zombie, I am delighted to have come across a free game online called ‘The Last Stand’. Set in what I assume to a be a post-zombie apocalypse, you man the barricades to defeat the oncoming zombie hordes throughout the night. During the day you manage your time to search for weapons, survivors and to repair the damage sustained to the barricades during the previous night. Simple but addictive fun, and free.

Play the game here and at freeonlinegames.com

The Walking Dead – the power of Cover Art

I have mentioned Robert Kirkmans ‘The Walking Dead’ (published by Image) a couple of times now. I love it. Set in a future where there has been a Zombie Apocalypse, there are pockets of civilisation left, and the focus of the story is on Policeman Rick Grimes, his family, and the other survivors he meets and forms a community with. They are currently in a prison, holed up and ‘safe’, while the undead roam the perimeter fencing. However, the nearby survivor community at Woodbury (a fortress-like town) has become aware of the prison, and led by ‘The Governer’, a psychopathic villain, they aim to take it by force.

This current story arc is subtitled ‘No-one is safe’. It is one of the series strengths that major characters can meet sudden death, reflecting the dangerous, unpredictable environment they are in. This arc also moves the threat away from the undead, and onto the Woodbury survivors. The implication is that we (humans) are our own worst enemy.

Robert Kirkman is producing some great writing for this book, and has to be considered as one of the very best writers of the genre (up there with Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Pat Mills, Frank Miller). His work is full of drama and emotion, and knows how to pace a story, even giving the reader superb cliffhangers at the end of each issue.

With any comic book, you need the visuals as much as you need the story. It’s an alchemy, and only the best titles and/or best writer &artist teams have it (for the obvious, think of Stan Lee & Jack Kirby on The Fantastic Four, or Stan Lee & Steve Ditko on The Amazing Spiderman). Charlie Adlard, the artist for ‘The Walking Dead’, has a style that suits the gritty, sometimes violent nature of Kirkmans writing. He is a British artist, and started out on 2000ad, working on Judge Dredd. He has been working on ‘The Walking Dead’ since issue 7. He has been doing the covers for each issue since #25. The covers I am showing here are from upcoming issues (#47,48 & 49 – the ‘no-one is safe’ arc finishes at 48). Not only do they give tantalising glimpses (and nothing more) of what will be happening, but they convey so much drama and emotion. I find the ‘mother & baby’ cover (of Rick Grimes’ wife, Lori, holding her infant daughter) particularly moving – the facial expression (anger? fear?) and position of surrender of the Mother, the way she is trying to shield her child, the movement of the baby in her arms, the aggressor standing mainly off panel, shotgun ready. The prison perimeter fence looks devastated, the feeling is one of desolation and finality.

The next issue is stark and foreboding – we know there will be major characters who will not survive, and this reaffirms this – it reminds me of images of makeshift war graves on the field of battle. Again, the prison perimeter fence is devastated, showing that the former ‘safe’ area has been broken down and is at the mercy of the undead and any other invader;

Finally, this is the most intriguing cover. Issue #49, Rick Grimes (part covered by shadow) being led by his young son, Carl. Ricks posture suggests one of 3 things – he has either become undead (as he is drawn in a typical ‘Zombie’ pose – think ‘Flyboy’ in Romeros ‘Dawn Of The Dead’) or is weak with injury, or overcome with grief and is incapable of doing anything – even escaping from danger – without the aid of his son. They certainly are not in the confines of the prison any more – this is open space, bristling with threat. Carl looks determined, intent on leading his Father to safety.

The comic book cover is the first impression, and Adlards art for ‘The Walking Dead’ is the perfect selling point for Kirkmans brutal survival tale. It demands your attention. It demands to be read. Can I have all these issues now please???

Links;

Robert Kirmans site
Kirkman discussing the ‘No-one Is Safe’ story arc
Review of Walking Dead 46
Wiki entry for Charlie Adlard
Wiki entry for Robert Kirkman
Image Comics Home

Last Blood

I am going through a phase in my life (another one) where I get slightly obsessed with all things Zombie. The last time the obsession took hold was when I played Resident Evil in the Nineties, and the time before that was when I got to see Dawn Of The Dead for the first time on VHS video in the Eighties. The reason I am ‘slightly obsessed’ now is down to 2 fantastic pieces of writing, the first one is Max Brooks’
‘World War Z’ which acts as an ‘oral history of the Zombie war’ and tells of how humans from all over the world fought back against legions of the undead. The second reason is Robert Kirkmans’ ‘The Walking Dead’ comic series, published by Image. It’s highly addictive, more like a drug, and Kirkman (the writer) really knows how to build up tension and leave each issue on a cliffhanger moment. I want to write more about ‘The Walking Dead’ at a later date, as at the minute there is a major story arc underway, and I want to get through that before I begin to enthuse about its genius.

I got back into comic books in a big way a few months back, mainly off the back of the Marvel Comics ‘Civil War’ story, and ‘The Walking Dead’. The thing is, how do you know what (comic book titles) are worth picking up and which are to be avoided when you haven’t really been reading them for several years? Well, you go on forums, you can check out the ‘what other people are buying who bought this’ approach of Amazon or Play, or you can look at previews of titles on Comic Companies websites, like the impressive Image Comics website, where most new titles covers and first five pages are there for you to peruse.

Some publishers are going the whole hog and putting a title online as well as in the traditional physical format. As I mentioned earlier, I am slightly obsessed with Zombies at the minute, and especially Zombies in comic books. I have been snapping up the whole ‘Marvel Zombies’ related titles (mainly written by Robert Kirkman), getting into Image Comics ‘Crawlspace – XXXombies’ (70’s porn stars and zombies face-off, with a bit of the powerful George C Scott film ‘Hardcore’ thrown in for good measure), and even checked out the Marvel Max title, Zombie. Online, you have got another title – Last Blood, created by Bobby & Chris Cosby, and published by Blatant Comics, but available to view here;

http://www.lastblood.net/

The concept is a twist on the traditional Zombie titles, with Vampires protecting Humans from Zombies, so their food supply is not affected. The site reprints all the issues so far (1 -3) and each page is readable online (it is not my preferred method of reading a comic). Each page has underneath it a few lines of comment from the creators, and underneath that some comments from users on the site. It’s a good package, and worth your time in having a look at it if you are into Zombies in comics. The writing is nicely paced, and although I wasn’t impressed with the first few pages of art, it certainly starts improving and you get used to the style quickly. It’s not great art, but it does its job well enough. Overall, I would give the 12 pages I have read an overall 7 out of 10.

Links;

Image are my favourite Comics publisher by far – check them out here –

http://www.imagecomics.com/

Official site for World War Z, by Max Brooks (son of Mel Brooks, honest!)

http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/worldwarz/