Plot: Zombies go to war.
Comments: Pound for pound, the only monster that has more metaphoric versatility than vampires is the zombie. Zombies have stood in for (among other things) racism, consumerism run amuck, class warfare, punditry, and social decay. Zombies of Mass Destruction, the pretty cool new comic from Red 5 and the writer of Underworld, adds biological warfare and political duplicity to the line up. This gives zombies the edge over vampires as far as I’m concerned (although HBO’s new series True Blood might even the score this fall). Grevioux has come up with a pretty interesting twist on the de rigor (mortis) zombie tale, finds a squirming bloody wound in our national psyche, and appears to be having fun smashing the two together.
File under the “I wish I had thought of that” category, Zombie of Mass Destruction is about our government using a special type of zombie for warfare in the Middle East. Air dropped at night into a hot zone, zombies rampage through an area and turn everyone. The morning sun’s rays cause the zombies to disintegrate, destroying all enemies and evidence; ZMD - a biological weapon of mass destruction that turns itself off every day. But, as with all zombie stories, something goes wrong; one of the original dropped zombies doesn’t disintegrate and leaves the hot zone searching for more prey. Naturally, this will cause problems not only because there is a zombie running loose but if it’s discovered that the US is using zombies as a weapon there will be a heap of political damage. Enter Krane, in charge of cleaning up the zombie dust and covering up any evidence. Now his job has gotten a whole lot more difficult.
The book opens with a battle in any-village Iran and the air drop of the zombies. The battle, zombie attack, turning of the warring factions and subsequent “photonecrosis” of the zombies and their victims is captioned by an interview on CNN with two government representatives emphatically denying:
1 – There is no fighting going on in Iran and,
2 – Even if there was, the US is certainly not involved.
The point is fairly blunt; it easily calls to mind another case of our gov’t claiming one thing and the reality being the exact opposite (take ZMD and change one letter). But the idea is so well executed, with the juxtaposition of the denial and the reality playing out in bloody zombie fun, that you can forgive the lack of subtlety. Krane and his team show up the next morning and begin clean up. His team finds out that one of the zombies wasn’t destroyed by the sun and the chase is on.
As said before, subtlety isn’t this book’s strong point. The dialogue doesn’t really tell us anything we couldn’t have figured out on our own – the shit storm that would happen if word got out about ZMD and how Krane doesn’t really care. Honestly though, the bad-ass soldiers vs. undead terror concept has enough fun juice to get over the rough patches. Krane comes across as your classic comic-book bad-ass (eye-patch and all) a spiritual brother to Snake Plisskin and Nick Fury. Zombies are punk rock no matter how you put them out there so the set up is designed to throw sparks. How about the metaphor? ZMD knows what’s going on underneath but it’s not about to let that get in the way of spinning a good yarn. Hopefully future issues will integrate the two elements without a sledgehammer blow. If it doesn’t ZMD still plays out like your 10 year old nephew’s best playtime scenario.
Final Word: For my money there are not enough war/zombie/chase hybrid stories out there, so ZMD fills an important niche. Besides anybody that had anything to do with getting Kate Beckinsale in that Underworld outfit gets a butt-load of goodwill points from me. Keep up the good work Kevin and Red 5; I’ll be there for the ride.
For a comic that’s rich in metaphor and light on zombies check out:
"Who is Crazy Mary?"
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