Panels From Beyond the Grave #14

THE ZOMBIE: SIMON GARTH (1 of 4, November 2007)

I have peculiar tastes. By and large, run-of-the-mill "zombie apocalypse" parables don't interest me. I've only watched a couple of episodes of The Walking Dead, I'm ambivalent towards the Resident Evil series and while I dig Dawn of the Dead, I don't see it as an empyreal epic that casts a shadow over all other zombie flicks. It's a matter of preference, and it can be accredited to multiple mediums. That's why I shrugged my broad, sinewy shoulders when I happened upon a copy of The Zombie: Simon Garth stowed away in my comic book collection. Judging by the cover, this wasn't a title that was going to knock my semen-encrusted socks off.

Technically, my socks are still on my feet (at this point, the semen acts as a reproductive resin), but I enjoyed The Zombie more than I thought I would. This is the first issue of a four-part saga. It was distributed by MAX, a Marvel imprint intended for mature readers. I read it anyway. As I've said before, I don't claim to be an expert on comic books, so you'll have to pardon my ignorance on the subject. It seems that The Zombie is an upshot of Tales of the Zombie, a classic Marvel title from back in the day. The plot follows Simon, an undead ghoul who emerges from a helicopter crash relatively unscathed. We spend the bulk of this installment watching him saunter through a forest dispatching various rednecks.

Meanwhile, a scientist panics at the site of the crash because his "subject" is nowhere to be found. A blood sample is also unaccounted for, which is bad news for everyone involved. From what I gather, the blood is infected with the virus that turned Simon into a zombie. This comic offers a fresh take on a trite subgenre. I don't think that I could digest another shopworn tale of portentous limb-chewing in the same vein as 28 Days Later. Instead of focusing on a group of hackneyed characters trying to survive amidst a horde of mangy, withering automatons, The Zombie concerns itself with one cadaverous drone (not counting any people who are infected as the storyline progresses).

On the dank side of the tampon, the living participants are bland and paper-thin. They're essentially faceless. I realize that it's early on in the series, but you need to develop strong personalities from the get-go. Kyle Hotz's artwork is sleek and appropriately gloomy. I love the pale blues and the eye-popping gore. Overall, The Zombie: Simon Garth is a fun, easy read that skirts around the cliches that tend to deface zombie-centric cinema/literature. Is it just me or could Simon pass for a gaunt Swamp Thing? Like if Alec Holland had body image problems and succumbed to bulimia...hey, Teen Beat puts a lot of pressure on bog monsters to attain certain measurements. I should stop typing, shouldn't I?

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