THE WALKING DEAD
In Pipeline's unflagging effort to pull off the almost inhuman task of reading every comic book that Robert Kirkman writes, this week I must comment on THE WALKING DEAD #1. This is the new Zombie book through Image Comics that focuses on a small town sheriff seeking some normalcy in a zombified world.
I have no fondness for Zombie movies. I don't think I've ever seen one. I don't think I've ever read a Zombie comic. It's just not my thing. While there have been numerous comments about this book borrowing scenes, elements, or styles from other Zombie movies (such as 28 DAYS LATER), it's all new to me. I don't have that baggage. This book could be packed full of clichés, and I wouldn't recognize a one of them. If you're a dedicated Zombie fan, you can use this as your excuse to skip this review all together. If you're someone who doesn't bother with zombies on a regular basis, you might want to listen to what I have to say.
And what I have to say is pretty simple: this is a cool book.
Officer Rick Grimes is a simple small town policeman. After being shot on duty, he wakes up in a hospital to discover the world is filled with zombies. Striking out on his own, he runs into a father and son who are likewise struggling to go it alone in a world that wants to zombify them. Much exposition follows, and a plot is struck upon -- Rick must get to the big city (Atlanta) to see his family. The humans were able to fortify their defenses better there. This first issue is 24 pages of solid storytelling that sets up the main character, the setting, enough mythology to keep you interested, and some clues as to how to survive in this world. Kirkman, himself, describes the book as a survivalist book more than a Zombie book. That sounds like a pretty good direction, particularly to someone like me who doesn't necessarily go for the zombie thing. The lead character is instantly empathic, which makes following his ups and downs all the more impactful.
Tony Moore's art is perfect for this book. He handles the decrepit zombie bodies well, showing us enough flesh and skin to horrify us without making us laugh. It would be really easy to draw silly looking zombies, I think. Moore's art makes them all ghastly and disgusting in their detail. He not only inks himself in this book, but also adds all the gray tones. I think the book requires the tones. They really add depth and flavor to the art. These aren't tones added just for the sake of making the page look busier. These tones create a world that looks like black and white cinema, and not a color comic printed in black and white. It's extremely affective here.
THE WALKING DEAD #1 is out now from Images Comics. It's $2.95 per issue, and is planned as an open ended monthly series. Let's hope enough people recognize the quality to keep this one going for a while.
SOME RANDOM RECENT REVIEWS
It looks like the coloring has settled into a rhythm of sorts with 1602 #3. The 45 degree angle to the coloring lines is more apparent in this issue than it was in the first two. It's like Richard Isanove found the trick that works for the book and will be using it exclusively for the rest of the series. It might bug some people. I know it took me a few pages to get used to it. It's always been there, but it's more pronounced now.
Neil Gaiman's script is a very high brow outing for Marvel superheroes, but he doesn't work so hard at it that the book becomes difficult to follow. It's accessible without being dumbed down. If you know the history, you'll be entertained by some of the ways Gaiman weaves these characters into it. If you don't know the history, there are always the Jess Nevins annotations.
NYX #1 is a curious read. Josh Middleton's art is the highlight here, which works both for and against the book. I thought his art on MERIDIAN #1 years ago might have been a fluke, but it turns out that Middleton does, indeed, have some sort of panty fetish. There's a number of shots in this issue that weren't necessary, the most obvious one being a panel in which the girl talking at her school desk is seen only from the desk down. It provides a simple little upskirt shot. UGH
Putting those shots aside, Middleton's art is gorgeous. It's expressive. It's unique. It's married to its coloring, which is also done by Middleton. It uses some Photoshop tricks, but for the most part relies on strong solid blocks of color. There are no filled-in black areas.
Quesada's story is standard first issue origin set-up type stuff. There are strong personalities throughout the issue, though, which help make it more interesting. As with so many comics today, it'll be impossible to pass judgment on this series until we get further into it. It'll take two or three issues to see how far off the norm the series will be, or if it'll be another exercise in cliché-packing.
CAPES #1 is now out on store shelves. I'm pretty sure I reviewed this book over the summer somewhere. In case your memory for that is holding up as well as mine, CAPES #1 is the first issue of a three-issue mini-series from Robert Kirkman (yes, him again) and relatively new artist Mark Englert. This is a lighter look at the Day In The Life of corporate superheroes. These guys and gals punch a timecard everyday and get into all sorts of incredible scrapes. Englert's obviously Larsen-inspired art fits the tone of the book beautifully, and the overall color package is a fun breezy read.
TWO-STEP #1 is the first part of another three-issue mini-series by Warren Ellis. This time, there's art by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. Their wild and sometimes cartoony art conveys all the madness and inspired lunacy of Ellis' script, as a strange man with a gun comes running through the life of a future CamGirl. A CamGirl is one who walks around in life with a series of cameras attached to her, recording and feeding to the internet her every adventure. Just when she thought she had seen it all and her career was over, the mysterious but well dressed Tony Ling comes running through her life with a gun and in hot pursuit of men carrying what looks to be a large violin case. Their romp through the city is filled with all sorts of colorful images, outlandish devices, and interesting animals. Paul Mounts helps with his bright coloring, keeping everything amped up ever so very much.
Ellis' script tells a complete story in one issue. There's plenty of potential here, so I'm looking forward to seeing what he has on tap for us in the next two issues.
THAT MARVEL COMICS CD COLLECTION
You've probably seen a lot about the release this past week of Marvel's classic comics collection on CD. It claims to contain about 100 complete comic books on one CD, for easy browsing via your local web browser. I have a copy of this thing, and I can't use it. It's only for use with MicroSoft's Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator 4.7 or better. Using MSIE is like going to a pediatricians' office and breathing deeply in front of a dozen sick coughing/hacking/wheezing children. You're just opening yourself up to needless illnesses. I'm using Mozilla as my web browser (both straight-up Mozilla and the cut-down Mozilla Firebird.) Mozilla is the next generation Netscape code, and so should work. Sadly, it does not for this CD.
I tried the README file for the disc to see if it had manual installation directions for the plug-in that is required to view these CDs. Here's what it says for anyone who uses either only MSIE or only Netscape Navigator:
"Simply open the collection, and the ActiveX Viewer Control will be automatically installed."
Well, that's mighty handy. It's also completely useless. I checked out the troubleshooting section, which had this useful advice:
"If the plug-in browser does not install in autoplay, just go to CD-ROM and click on the DjVuWebBrowserPlugin.exe, it will self install."
I did that and watched it run. It looks for all the default directories that might contain MSIE or Navigator and installs it as appropriate. It never queries the user for a directory to install it into. It never gives you the option of using something else. You're trapped.
I'm not, so I skipped it. I can only imagine that this extremely limits the chances of this software being used on a Linux browser, as well. There are so many perfectly suitable cross-platform applications out there that could have been used as a viewer that it's a shame the company behind this disc felt the need to lock it all up.
Something this simple should not be overlooked in the world of computing today. This is ridiculous, and it's why I'm not reviewing the CD. I'm sure it's a thing of beauty, content-wise, though.
Update: This just in. A kind poster at the Pipeline message board has provided directions on how to get this CD to work in Mozilla. It's hardly automated, but it'll do the trick. I'll give it a shot this week, and perhaps review the CD in the next column. Still, I've advise against using Internet Explorer as your default browser.
RANDOM HEADLINE FOR THE WEEK
Malaysia is having an open "casting call" to find its first astronaut. Perhaps this is where Milx disappeared off to when he was supposed to be drawing SILVER SURFER?
C'mon, wouldn't that be a much cooler story than "performance anxiety?"
CHANGE OF THE SEASONS
It seems like this past week was the time for my annual Changing Of The Seasons cold. Here's an interesting point of trivia for you: Diabetics can't take decongestants. Thus, when a diabetic such as myself gets some sort of head cold/sinus infection/allergy thing that blocks up his nose and gives him the equivalent of a cement block in his skull, it can be a very painful and annoying recovery process. I'm feeling better now, but I'm far behind on this column and its assorted activities.
Last week's column about trades and Bill Jemas generated e-mails and posts to the Pipeline message board that deserve some answers. If you're one of the people who wrote to me in the past week, hang in there. I'll have an answer for you this week, or I'll take the space in next week's column to answer some of your questions here.
Thanks for your patience.
Various and Sundry has been updated all week with a review and plenty of links to the band Of A Revolution, confusing computer directions from LinkSys, Walt Disney and Salvador Dali, a lunar eclipse, a shotgun wedding, and more.
Nearly 500 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns or so are still available at the Original Pipeline page.