Zombie Outlaw #1 Review : by A Comic Book Review
For me to explain my opinion of a horror book, I feel like I first need to make clear my viewpoint on horror in general. In the world of horror, there seem to be two subgenres that you can go for: realism and camp. Realism is difficult to master. Like a good sci-fi, good realistic horror has to not only avoid cheesiness, but also needs to have a message that applies to its real-world audience. Camp on the other hand, has a hard time failing. If the visuals are cheesy, it adds to the overall campiness. Social commentary, plot, and character development in this kitschy subgenre are all optional, because the target audience is just there for the gore and humor. In Brian Apodaca and B. Paul Jordan’s Zombie Outlaw, the camp is abundant and realism is out the window.
Personally, I need some level of campiness if I am going to delve into horror. When it comes to zombies, vampires, and the like; I have the courage of a six-year-old girl. So when I hear a title like Zombie Outlaw, I prematurely create a positive bias. Think about it. That title just screams nutty fun, and it doesn’t let you down. In story and art, the book reads like a Saturday morning cartoon for my generation: children of the late 80’s who are either finishing college or starting their boring jobs. We need more entertainment like this.
So why Zombie Outlaw? The story goes that there was a small town that sat in modern day Irvine, California which was overrun with “beasts” (I’m thinking zombies). Because the sheriff of the town was totally useless, the townspeople were forced to turn to an outlaw that had ridden through town just before the occurrence. Now skip ahead to today’s Irvine State where a love-struck nerd is being dragged through the dingiest corners of the ISU library by his RA in exchange for his help wooing the unobtainable hotty in the study room down the way. The dragging is, of course in search of information on the infamous Zombie Outlaw whose body apparently rests in the crypts that are ludicrously locked on the basement level of the library.
So yes, the story is wacky and a bit unreasonable, but don’t forget that this is campy horror. It is presented as a Shaun of the Dead rather than a 28 Days Later. My complaint for Apodaca however, regards pacing. It seems as though he feels so pressured by the typical comic book issue format and its brevity that he glosses over long-term opportunities. Characters that could have been fun to keep around are bitten by the end of this first issue, and I think the outlaw’s back story could have been built up a bit more before the action started. I feel like I have seen this a lot in independent first issues, so it isn’t like that hurried feel ruins this book. It does however put a little more pressure on the second issue. The second issue is going to start with the resolution of the first issue’s action sequence. It is my hope for the rest of the next issue that Apodaca slows down the pace a bit and gives the next action scene some more build-up.
B. Paul Jordan’s art rounds out the campy Saturday morning cartoon feel of Zombie Outlaw. That feel has its pros and cons, of course. The con is that it keeps the Zombies from being scary, while the pro is that it is immune to flaws. If something looks less detailed or not as perfectly drawn as something else, that is because it is supposed to be. I can tell that Jordan spent a ton of time on the design for Zombie Outlaw himself because he looks like a super-cool, limb-ripping, BAMF. Details and backgrounds on certain frames are ignored, and it is because of the cartoon style that this is forgivable.
By the time I finished the book, I found myself wearing a small smirk. It is exciting to know that this kind of work is being produced right here in my backyard. No, it isn’t perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and a really cool piece to have lying around in my room. So far, I have received a lot of PDF’s to review, but Brian was cool enough to send me an actual issue and some promo materials. On a few separate occasions, friends unlucky enough to be inside my room have seen this book on my desk and burst into laughter saying something like “Sam, you would have something like Zombie Outlaw, you nerd!” My only response is “F**k yah I would!” My point is that everything about this book is totally off the wall. Apodaca and Jordan need to keep chugging with it because it needs to have its own cult following full of cosplaying geeks that argue over its lore which has yet to be created. Because of the style of the creators and the episodic nature of comic books, Zombie Outlaw has the potential to go anywhere, and I am really excited to see what happens next for this title.
I also have to give it up for the best independent comic website I have seen to date. Visit it. Screw around. Find this book. Ship it to your house. Read it. Leave it out for your friends to see.