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Last Resort #1

Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2009
By: Jon Judy

Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Giancarlo Caracuzzo
IDW Publishing
ďTwo GoatsĒ

Isnít it ironic that zombies crave brains and yet zombie stories are routinely so mindless?

And right there Iíve revealed my bias; I donít dig zombie stories, so if you do then you may want to take this entire review with a grain of salt. After all, this is a zombie comic book.

So let me put my bias aside for a second and say this: This is a more than competent comic book, a product of highly-skilled professionals, and therefore it will likely appeal to its target audience. The Caracuzzoís art is terrific--all the characters look like distinct individuals, which makes the introduction of so many of them in one issue a little easier to digest. And Palmiotti and Gray are obviously competent professionals, so if you like T and A Ė no shortage of T and A, mind you Ė some rated-R humor, and zombies, youíll probably like this particular zombie comic book.

Well, I think itís a zombie comic book--it may be about a rabid, cannibal leper. Iím just not sure, which leads me to my first criticism of this book: Iím not sure what itís even about, but I donít think I like what itís about. There is an admittedly subjective level to this particular criticism. I find zombie stories dull. I just donít like the genre.

But beyond that, as I said, Iím not even entirely clear on what this book is about. The premise, as I understand it: A zombie has drifted ashore on a resort island, and now a plane has made an emergency landing there and the passengers will have to deal with the shit-storm that has ensued.

This leads to my next criticism: I just donít care about any of these characters, so when the book ends in a cliffhanger placing them in danger, I had no emotional reaction.

OK, thatís not entirely true. There were some characters I outright despised, but I didnít despise them enough to want to pick up the second issue to see if they got the death they had coming to them.

Part of the problem here is one of quantity. There are just too many characters for all of them to be introduced smoothly, or with enough depth for us to care about them.

Letís go with the smoothness, first. I count 16 characters here, not including background characters such as cab drivers and airport ticket counter clerks. Thatís an awful lot of people to introduce to the readers, and with only 22 pages of story. Obviously most of those introductions are going to come via exposition-laden dialog. The result is that this is a highly repetitive read. Every page or two, two new characters are introduced and they exchange some unnatural exposition. Rinse, repeat.

Consider lines like this one, which a character says to a woman she has just met: ďIím going to Aruba as well. Believe it or not, I won a beauty pageant and this trip is part of the prize. Iím meeting my cousin down there. She works at the Hilton.Ē Nobody talks like that. Well, unless they have one or two lines of dialog in which to let you know the details of their life that are relevant to the plot of a story they are in.

Another line that bothered me--one of the characters, an apparent nymphomaniac, is pissed off to learn that her boyfriend has brought only four condoms along for their flight. ďOnly four?Ē she asks. ďThis flight is over two hours, dickhead!Ē Umm...do the math...two hours, four condoms, a condom every half hour...time for recovery and dressing and undressing...yeah, Iím going to say that even if her boyfriend is an absolute machine, and sheís totally into illicit quickies, four is still way reasonable, and anyone would think so.

So what, you ask? Am I over thinking a pointless joke? No, Iím not. One, itís just not funny, and I donít need to over think anything to come to that conclusion. Two, itís a joke that does have a point: Itís meant to establish character, but comes off awkwardly because using dialog alone to give us all of the exposition we need and establishing sixteen characters results in dialog that just doesnít ring true, like this joke.

Beyond the quantity of characters, I think the pages could have been managed more effectively to allow more space for cultivating audience attachment to the characters. Consider the first five pages, in which aforementioned zombie drifts to shore and then attacks a lifeguard. Does it really take five pages to convey that someone has drifted ashore and attacked someone? Perhaps to do so effectively would require five pages, fine, but wouldnít it be better to have this opening contained in a page or two and then to use the now freed-up three-to-four pages to give us some reason to care about one or two of the sixteen characters?

Then there is what we learn about the characters. I think it could often have been handled more economically, again freeing up space to give us reasons to care about one or two of the characters. For example, one page is devoted to introducing two characters who are sleeping together and really like each other--this isnít just a tawdry fling. Did we really need an entire page to learn that? And why did we need to know it anyway? I was simply left confused, with no emotional attachments that would induce me to read the second issue in an effort to lessen that confusion.

So the plot is confusing and unclear, there are too many characters, I formed no emotional attachment to any of them, and the book raises more questions than it answers, and not in an intriguing way but in a Iím-not-sure-why-I-should-care way.

So, again, if you like T and A--no shortage of T and A, mind you--some rated R humor, and zombies, youíll probably like this. Me? Iím like a zombie here, Iím in search of more brains.



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