Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Pierre Boisserie
Artist: Malo Kerfriden
Release Date: 8th October 2014
It’s pretty much safe to say that every variation and permutation of the zombie theme has been done to death by now, right? Well… hold that thought, because The Rage, a brand new series from Titan Comics, has seemingly achieved the impossible by actually injecting something a little bit fresh into the decaying corpse of the zombie genre. Their twist? Children. Namely, an aggressive zombie virus that only affects the pre-pubescent, providing this book with some truly unique moral dilemmas and a genuinely unnerving aesthetic.
While there admittedly isn’t much that is terribly new being offered here by the bulk of the narrative, the execution is smooth enough to give the comic some legs, and one brilliantly crafted plot plot point gives the series a whole new lease of life (pun intended). Namely, the fact that, since the virus only affects children, when said children reach puberty, their bodies start to combat and ultimately overcome the virus, necessitating the use of special military ‘Removal Teams’ who have to swoop in and try to rescue them before they become lunch for their former zombie chums. Like I said, brilliant.
The story is centred around Amina Riviere, a nurse who finds herself feeling compelled to sign up to assist these ‘Removal Teams’ in their work. Riviere’s past is revealed to us gradually, with each tragedy we see her facing adding a new perspective to what is initially a fairly one-dimensional character. By the end of this volume, we find ourselves far more invested in her, although her somewhat restrained demeanour throughout the majority of the book’s events doesn’t exactly help with that.
The artwork is solid, but Kerfriden seems to be playing it safe for the most part with a fairly rigid, straightforward style. We have occasional flashes of creativity, particularly during the interaction with the zombie children, but this isn’t an issue that features a huge amount of intense emoting or overblown drama – at least not visually. That said, there’s a beauty to the simplicity which helps to root the book in reality far more than if everyone were charging around like caricatures with shotguns and exploding zombie craniums, so in that respect, the style actually enhances things.
Overall, The Rage manages to evade the over saturated nature of its zombie premise, but only barely. The ‘children as zombies’ hook offers up some terrific moral quandaries and dilemmas (mandatory contraception, for one), and the inspired decision to have some of the children actually outgrowing the virus gives the book some real legs moving forwards. So while it will definitely need to tread carefully to avoid becoming derivative or clichéd, based on what I’ve seen in this first issue I have no doubt that Boisserie and Kerfriden are up to the task. One to watch, for sure.
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