Compilations like this are a rarity on the comics stands these days. Image has done very well with the concept with the Tori Amos collaboration, Comic Book Tattoo as well as their two volumes of PopGun books and their recent Liquid City book which featured work by Asian writers and artists. Of course, there is always the excellent Flight series too. Those anthologies are all superb ways of introducing new fans into our beloved medium of choice, but if you’re into something more frequent (as in every month) that features some great short stories, then BOOM! Studios has the answer for you. Comparing their Zombie Tales series to the books mentioned above is a stretch, but they all offer bite sized (no pun intended) tales to hook readers into the marvels of sequential art.
Zombie Tales is, as the title suggests, a monthly look at tales featuring everyone’s favourite horror creatures of the moment. Yep, zombies. Having only read a couple of issues of this series, it’s extremely refreshing to be able to jump on board and simply be entertained without having to know why Superhero X is pummelling Superhero Y.
If you’re drawn to films of the undead like flies to the…undead, then this is a series for you. Zombies may not do much, apart from shambling and muttering, but as the slew of films have shown as over the last few years, they can squeeze into any genre. They’re not just bound to horror features anymore. Zombies are no longer being typecast. What an age we live in!
The first tale here is written by John R. Fultz, with art by Aritz Eiguren. It centres on two hitmen presumably working for the Mafia, who take their latest victim out to the woods to complete their given task. For one of the men, it is The Last Hit, as is the title. Despite their killing of the snitch, he digs out of his makeshift grave and attacks Satch in their car. Satch of course turns against his partner Bruno. Now Bruno has two “corpses” to his credit, and when he visits the boss to tell him he’s finished his final job, it looks like Bruno himself may be the third. Suitably bloody art makes this a harsh and violent story, as most zombie tales are.
Summer 2061 is the second tale and is a continuation of a story from the first issue of this series. However, if you didn’t read that tale, you won’t be out of your depth here. Basically, zombies now appear to be the dominant lifeform, taking over a city, with humans as their playthings. A more serious and epic tale, written by Kim Krizan, it is complimented greatly by Jon Reed’s ruggedly realistic art. A motley group of human survivors has had enough and storm the city to free a few more to join their ranks. They are met by the world the way zombies want it – humans in pet stores, human rugs and the huge Summer Games, consisting of humans fighting each other like the Roman days of centuries ago.
The third and final tale, Zombie Come Home is written by Tom Peyer, who is the only familiar name in this issue, due to his stint on many DC titles, including Legion of Super Heroes. Drew Rausch’s pencils combined with Drew Berry’s colours give this tale a look straight from a children’s book. The story is a simple one, with very little dialogue. Basically a boy is keeping a zombie tied to a tree in his backyard as a restrained and mute life size action figure. His parents console him as a government chopper comes to take him away. A fiery crash means the zombie is free and after some wandering, he falls into a river and lands at his keeper’s house again, which gives the child much joy. The naïve child runs to his undead friend and gives him a big hug, but instead of receiving a similar response, he is welcomed with a munch to his noggin. What a glorious ending. If you can’t laugh at this picture, then there’s something wrong with you. It’s a deliciously amusing finale, and if BOOM! doesn’t turn this page into a poster, they’re mad.
There’s something here for every taste. The first two tales are more serious in nature and the final one is anything but. Each of the three differs enough in its approach to story and art and is well worth a look if you’re new to comics, love zombies or just want a few entertaining pages to distract you from your post-Christmas weight gain.