Kicking off a short while after the events of the film that bears its name, “28 Days Later” #1 finds Selena, one of the survivors from the film, holed up in a Norwegian Refugee camp. Approached by an American reporter to return to the UK, Selena accepts an offer to become his guide in London — but, as you’d expect, things don’t go to plan.
Since this series also acts as a prequel to “28 Weeks Later,” there’s little doubt about Selena’s eventual fate, so Nelson quickly builds up a cast around her. Tensions are high and the group seems fairly at odds with one another already, which is a standard action-movie trope. For that reason, it works perfectly, keeping the reality of the comic in sync with what we’ve seen. As the returning lead, it’s good to see that Nelson has translated Selena’s voice to the page perfectly, and the spot-on dialogue goes a long way towards bringing the character to life in lieu of Danny Boyle’s camerawork.
Of course, equally shouldering that burden is artist Declan Shalvey, whose visuals convey a fittingly grimy, harsh mood. It’s not until the infected do finally arrive in the issue, though, that we see what Shalvey is truly capable of. In the movies, the jerky, twitching camerawork made the infected look even more menacing — but the comics medium simply isn’t built to do that sort of effect. To compensate, we get slightly atypical angles and close-ups of the infected, which gives a similar effect on the page.
If there’s any criticism that can be leveled against the opening issue, it’s that there’s not enough of it. The story has barely started before it’s leaving us with a cliffhanger, and there are as many questions left hanging about Selena’s past as there are about her future. The odd flashback does feature, but they mainly serve to round out Selena’s character — which, to be fair, does work — but it’s not what readers will be interested in.
That does assume, of course, that those readers are coming to the title with prior knowledge of one or both films. Anyone who approaches the series fresh might end up in serious trouble, because there’s very little given to the set-up, and frequent references to events that don’t have enough context without the movies. It’s fair to say that Boom! is allowing the book to play to its audience, but if you were thinking of going into it cold, then it’s unlikely that the first issue will prove as a satisfying introduction to the world of “28 Days Later” — the rest of us, though, can expect to be quickly hooked by it.