Rombies Review

This is one of those books that I read when it first came out (in this case, December) and then meant to immediately tell the world how awesome it is, before I became distracted, which is a common occurrence these days, happily thanks to Broken Frontier and Extra Sequential. Seeing as this little gem, and the rest of Gestalt’s catalogue is now becoming available internationally through Diamond, now’s the time to give it a rotting thumbs up.

Rombies is a black and white one-shot from local (to me in Perth, Western Australia anyway) publisher Gestalt. The last year has since the company put out some impressive books, including not only this one, but also the Digested series and Justin Randall’s Changing Ways.

It’s written by Tom Taylor, who’s on a roll at the moment writing various Star Wars titles for Dark Horse including the excellent Invasion, and The Authority for DC/Wildstorm. Handsome/gruesome art is supplied by Skye Ogden (Gestalt’s silent Vowels book). Effectively a 24 page #0 issue, Rombies starts the barbaric tale contained within, but also the series (more issues are on the way. Yay!) with a bang, or rather, a slice to the abdomen. Opening on a gladiatorial arena (hence the title, from Roman zombies) filled with bloodthirsty spectators, and desperate men we see the victor standing over his fallen opponent. One glance up at the Emperor, who gives the thumbs down, and it’s a quick finish to the fighter at his feet. Or is it? Um…no. The rules of life and death are quickly rattled in the next few moments as the dead loser gets up ready for round two. He’s soon joined by all the other “corpses” scattered on the dusty floor, with the fact that they’re missing limbs or have an axe in their face existing as a mere nuisance.

This is a great intro to the book, and Taylor does a firm job of skirting expectations from readers who’ve had their fair barrage of both zombies and gladiators in recent years. Combing the two is the best thing since Mr. Mocha put chocolate and coffee in the same cup.

There’s then a wise chase involving a determined undead horde, big cats and an understandably overwhelmed boy. Skye Ogden’s art reminds me somewhat of Kyle Hotz, with his flowing lines and organic approach. He paces things very well, and knows how to make the page have a real impact, with an early double page spread and large panels being used superbly. The ending is, for lack of a better word, a hoot. It made me laugh with its bold, yet dark, approach.

It’s a quick read sure, but one that will make most hunger for more. Thankfully, that’s exactly what we’re getting, and the teaser image below makes me salivate at the prospect of Taylor and Ogden telling their zombie epic through the ages. Really the possibilities are endless. Zombies in Napoleon’s army? An undead Hitler? Elvis rising from Graceland, hungry for impersonator flesh in Las Vegas? They could go anywhere.

Pick this book up now, or in August if you’re not in Oz. It’s daring, entertaining, and cheap! You could also see your own face as a Rombies extra if you’re keen to view how others see you before your morning coffee. Or mocha.

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