The new “Zombies vs. Robots” series arrives and, though co-creator and major attraction Ashley Wood is not the regular artist, the results are an intriguing return to a concept that poses some very interesting possibilities to the apocalypse scenario thanks to the additional creative assembly of Chris Ryall, Steve Niles, Anthony Diecidue and Val Mayerik.
Artist Anthony Diecidue provides a visual element that shares the scratchy, chaotic aesthetic prominent in so much of Wood’s work while still leaving his own mark on the proceedings. Chris Ryall’s script is accessible and re-introduces the universe through narration via surveillance robot, which is a sensible way to bring in new readers while walking and talking. As the robot passes across the landscape, we learn that zombies still persist in a world where no there is no food, which raises the interesting question of what happens in a post-zombie world. Ryall posits that the future is the same as the past, that — even in an altered state of humanity — deep down we will always be the same, no matter the era.
Deicidue sees the world as Wood envisioned it, a husk of its former self, browned and now rusted with machines that rot in the sun. His work is loose and playful with the story, allowing for some goofy retro-future designs like the warbot that runs automatically, shredding any zombie that roves past its field of vision. This all looks very close to what Wood would create, though the storytelling on the page is a little easier to follow. It will be interesting to see how the visuals evolve as he begins to design more of what he is doing in the book on his own.
Wood does appear in the book, providing a two-page story that reminds the reader how great his work can be. Steve Niles and Val Mayerik also begin a backup tale about the last human on Earth and her new robot pal. It’s a mostly silent affair and, though I wonder how a child could possibly know how to wire together a robot without any humans around to teach her how to run electricity, I can suspend disbelief for the sake of finding out where the story will lead. Mayerik’s art is heavy on the inks and, though it isn’t flashy, it’s clear and easy to read.
“Zombies vs. Robots” #1 has a few new things to say about the zombie genre and, in reading the back matter, it seems like Ryall is excited to jump back into this story. The issue ends with a solid cliffhanger that opens the door for new complications on both the “Z” and the “R” end of the title. “Zombies vs. Robots” #1 is a great return to the series.