Review – ’68: Last Rites #1 (Image Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Image Comics
Author: Mark Kidwell
Artist(s): Jeff Zornow, Jay Fotos
Release Date: July 22nd, 2015

Every now and again, as if by the Divine Will of the comic Gods you stumble on a complete series of comics you’d never heard of before and immediately love. I’d never heard of the ‘68 storylines before, but I’ll tell you right now it will not be hard to guess what I’m ordering from my chosen retailer next. I’m just kinda bummed I’ve discovered this at the end, as this is the last mini-series that ties up all the previous stories together.

Anyway, let’s set the scene without spoiling too much of the comic. We’re in New York, and it’s winter. The city is overrun by zombies (all currently frozen), and is split into territories. We are following the story of the Flatiron Group (that are encamped in the Flatiron Building – obvs). They are seeking out a helicopter that was seen in the area to check it out, and also are looking to make contact with the Tribe that resides in Chinatown.

To do this they need to deal with roaming tribes of cannibals, the Soho tribe let by – I kid you not – Andy Warhol, and any random Zombies that are not currently frozen. They find, and save, an army envoy from the crashed helicopter who carries with him details on how the zombie virus started and the uprising of the new American Government. It’s led by Richard Nixon who controls what is left of the Eastern continental US – and who still consults with a zombie Henry Kissinger as his national security advisor. That’s not all – and I can’t believe how crazy this is – he has to form the new Government with the guy that controls Western Continental US, a complete hippy, and cult leader called Charlie. I can only assume this is Charles Manson, as all his bodyguards are devoted women.

Sounds nuts, right? This is simply amazing, I love what Mark Kidwell has done in this narrative. Taking all these huge names from the height of the freedom movement versus the harsh Republican hardline of the Vietnam War cabinet and setting it in a county torn apart by the zombie apocalypse is genius, and those are just some named highlights. There is also the beginning of an actual story here that is engaging and makes me wish Issue two was out already, and that is no easy feat.

The inks and borders by Jeff Zornow are wonderfully full and chaotic, there is not empty space anywhere in his panels. The slightly messy style of drawing adds to both the vibe of the era and the claustrophobic, paranoid life these people have trying to scrape out some type of living in the overrun city; it also works well in the cramped and uncomfortable meet between Nixon and Manson (?), with the polar opposites of the hard-line war vets meeting with a bunch of New Age hippies. All this is coloured beautifully by Jay Fotos. The headshots are sick in a totally gratuitous way, so this definitely isn’t a comic for kids. It’s glorious violence and horror wrapped around a storyline that teases (perhaps) a hopeful story of people and survival.

Image are pumping out some wonderful stuff lately, and this is no exception. After everything I’ve just said there is no way I can’t give this a perfect score.

Rating: 5/5.

The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.

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