Everything has zombies these days. The hit videogame “Plants vs. Zombies” was probably a harbinger of what ahead, but nonetheless it’s a little surprising to see just how much zombie there is on the market right now. “Fanboys vs. Zombies” #1 by Sam Humphries, Jerry Gaylord and Penelope Gaylord looks to feed on that particular trend and while it’s not a bad comic, once you remove the “zombie apocalypse at Comic-Con” hook, there’s not much left.
I’ll give Humphries credit that he tries to make this idea work, but at least at the end of this first issue I found myself curiously unhooked. It probably doesn’t help that he’s gone for the story structure of a group of acquaintances (and former friends) that are going to have to band together in order to survive. As a result we get a cast that snipes and sneers at one another, but at least initially it’s without any real feel for them liking each other once upon a time. We’re told (and in a one page flashback shown) that they used to be the best of friends, but none of that is evident here. It’s hard to want to see them live through the rest of the story because of this; at the end of the first issue I didn’t see a single redeeming feature about any of the characters.
Those who do go to Comic-Con regularly will no doubt find some of the jokes to their taste; the disgusting convention food, the usage of one of the massive give-away bags as a weapon, or Comic Book Resources occupying one of the skyboxes up above the convention floor. None of these, at least for now, feel integral to the plot, though. I’d like to see the Comic-Con nature of “Fanboys vs. Zombies” a little more important rather than just window-dressing. It could be the big strength of the series, but it’s just not evident yet.
Gaylord’s art is stripped down and quite cartoonish. It means that he’s able to get away with a lot more gore than you might otherwise imagine; when a zombie arm is inadvertently ripped off, or body parts go flying, it’s not so disgusting that you want to stop reading. It’s a little too over the top in a few places to take seriously (especially the “Zombie Attaaaaaaack!” panel), but it’s not bad. If nothing else, I feel that Gaylord is able to bring to life the crush of people at Comic-Con and for that alone he deserves some sort of medal for bringing that hell so accurately to the printed page.
“Fanboys vs. Zombies” #1 feels like a generic zombie story with a slightly different window dressing. That places it in the middle of the pack, but in order to read more I’d like to see Humphries and Gaylord use their setting as more of a selling point. This could be a lot of fun, but right now it’s just average.