‘Rex, Zombie Killer:’ Advance Comic Book Review

The Walking Dead meets Milo and Otis on crack! What more could a comic geek ask for, particularly with the rise in zombie lore interest in novels, TV, movie and comics? However, this is a comic with an amazing premise that doesn’t seem to have decided who its audience is.

In a post-apocalyptic world overridden by zombies, or “rotters,” the humans have been evacuated to a camp in Nevada, leaving their animals behind.  The comic focuses on the adventures of a band of animals determined to find their humans while surviving attacks from rotters and other animals. The group is a mix led by Rex (“hyper-intelligent Golden Retriever”), and includes Kenji (“Gorilla with a bat”), Brutus (“tough, battered Pitt Bull”), Buttercup (“small corgi mix with a big heart”), and Snowball (“cat with a disdain for everything”). While Rex is the leader, it is Kenji that has the admiration of the group and the heart. For this writer, it is his story I am most intrigued by and who I root for in battle. Kenji is loyal and vigilant, while Rex is focused and self-driven.

The comic is rated teen+; however, it would be appropriate for older elementary school students and middle school students.  While the writers do an admirable job to distinguish the voices of the characters, at this point in the series the “pack” is very similar. The difference lays in the species outside the group; rotters, apes, and squirrels have very unique voices that add to the dimension and help the reader to follow who is talking in the height of action. The squirrels bring humor to what could be scary moments. At times, the book’s talking bubbles and squares do not make it clear who in the “pack” is speaking. Having more distinct personalities in speech would help the reader.

Overall, the piece is reminiscent of Thundercats and GI Joe-style battles with a hidden darkness. The animals’ innocence about the real nature of their “human’s” relationship with them keeps them in a childlike state as they adventure. Their memories are told in grayscale, which adds a beautiful dimension to the artwork and style of the piece and also reveals to the reader the truth about the humans and the pack's misinterpretation of their relationship.

The artwork has a lighter, safer quality to it than I would expect for a zombie graphic. It's closer to '50s superhero styles than the typical dark, violent, and graphic zombie drawings. Most of the zombies look the same, except in close-up. This graphic excels in “reaction shots.” The text is mostly child-like even during battle, where is gets larger and bolder in color. It offers an exciting and interesting perspective that just doesn’t feel complete.

Therefore, I still come back to . . . who is this graphic story for? I can see children absolutely loving this graphic novel and following each issue to see where Rex leads the pack next and who Kenji beats with his bat; however, the underlying adult themes with the humans that led to the creation of the “rotters” and destruction of civilization, leaves glimpses of a darker story. Maybe even an important story for kids. The violent scenes are not dark, but rather a mix of gore and camp. Which is how I feel the comic in general is; bordering on a line between camp and grit, and it hasn’t chosen one. It could very well successfully blend the two and create a light, but insightful, piece for adults or children, but, in this issue, it is unclear to me for whom the story is and what the style of the piece is.  I really am rooting for it to clarify itself, because it is such an intriguing story.

Last modified on Friday, 10 January 2014 13:34

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