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Kolchak Tales: Nightstalker of the Living Dead #2

Posted: Saturday, July 12, 2008
By: Ray Tate

Christopher Mills
Tim Hamilton, Ian Sokoliwski (c)
Moonstone Books
When reading Kolchak, you'll no doubt have flashbacks to every zombie film ever made. You can just look at the scenes and pull them from the filing cabinet in your head. H for horror.

Zombies have taken to the road in The Planet of Terror. They've been spewed from agricultural disasters in The Grapes of Death. Walled up unlikeable victims and shoot 'em in the head discourse spurts from the granddaddy of zombie films Night of the Living Dead. Zombie films, however, are cannibalistic by nature. So why penalize a comic book for sticking to the ribs of tradition?

I've only marked down this otherwise perfect issue of Kolchak for too closely relying upon Resident Evil. The sterile laboratory setting combined with infected animals, however unsettlingly illustrated, are the sole products of that film.

What makes Kolchak unique is Kolchak himself. Christopher Mills taps out the purple prose of Carl Kolchak in the engrossing narration and the monster hunting journalist's snappy patter. Very easily I heard Darren McGavin speaking each word. His charm comes from the way he sweet talks a sympathetic sheriff, and of course, Carl is the person you want to have by your side when your world takes a dip into a pool of blood being supped upon by cosmos knows what.

Another thing that I feel Mills must be credited for is separating the zombie film from the infection film. When you get right down to it, the films everybody can identify as zombie films really aren't. Most students in the macabre genre know this. They simply cannot shake off that damn zombie moniker. Who better than Carl Kolchak to relay the truth:

"My dear. I know zombies...And these are not zombies."

There have been genuine zombie films such as the classic White Zombie and I Walked With a Zombie, but modern day zombie film which started with Night of the Living Dead are almost always infection films. Zombies rely upon black magic to animate. The infected that are termed zombies depend upon science gone awry or a contingency of nature. Zombies are creatures of horror. However horrible their behavior, the infected are beasts of science fiction.

No matter which you prefer Tim Hamilton and Ian Sokoliwski are on hand to instill an eerie atmosphere that pervades around sweating, terrified victims and Night Stalkers alike. They instill perverse comedy in the wide eyed gazes of people unlucky enough to share a flight with Carl Kolchak as he records this recent foray into fear.



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