Publisher: Cult Empire Comics
Writer: George Lennox
Artist: James Devlin
Lettering: Colin Bell
Release Date: 29th April 2016 (Granite City Comic Con)
To say that things are continuing to escalate in the latest, penultimate issue of Cult Empire’s VIETNAM ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST would be a major understatement. For those of you who have missed out on the first two issues (shame on you!) this is a series which you can pretty much figure out based solely on its title. A genetically modified troop of experimental Zombie soldiers are unleashed into the jungles of war-torn Vietnam, with a likeable group of hard-nosed grunts caught in the crossfire. It’s simple, effective, and serves as a glorious homage to two wonderfully over-the-top genres.
Once again, writer George Lennox keeps things relatively simple here, pushing the style and tone of the series very much to the forefront. It’s not exactly reinventing the wheel, but – as I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions – Lennox’s clear love of B-Movie horror excess shines through in every page, giving the series an indelible sense of charm that manages to keep it afloat in the overcrowded “zombie comic” waters. The gore is unapologetically relentless and the language is foul – even if some of the racial slurs being hurled around are a little uncomfortable at times – making this the comic book equivalent of a video nasty that gets discreetly passed around from teenager to teenager with whispers of “mate, you have to watch this!”
The visual side of the story undoubtedly remains its strongest selling point, with SICBA juggernaut James Devlin continuing to crank out some truly fantastic pages here. While he has always possessed something of a bold, in-your-face style, Devlin’s work is pushed to dizzying new heights here by the excess of Lennox’s story, with mad scientists, Viet Cong ninjas and zombie-versus-crocodile scraps all giving him ample opportunity to flex his creative muscle. Subtle this ain’t, and nor should it be as Devlin’s solid, dynamic approach gives the story the gloriously over-the-top aesthetic that it truly deserves. Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning that this issue also features the best single panel of the series so far – a fantastically brutal machete-assisted face removal that Romero himself would be proud of.
The exposition is a little unwieldy at times, with Doctor Herbert’s “origin” in particularly feeling like it could have been delivered with a little more creativity than a mere telephone conversation. Similarly, the attempt at an emotional beat-slash-philosophical lamentation on the tragedy of war near the end of the issue feels more than a little forced, particularly given the lack of any real character development on the part of the soldiers before then – not to mention the tone of the series as a whole. VIETNAM ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST is undeniably a series which works best when it plays to its strengths; namely, focusing on the glorious mash-up Lennox and Devlin have achieved between B-Movie schlock and 80s Action blockbuster excess.
It remains to be seen whether Lennox and Devlin can deliver a satisfying enough conclusion to this series in just one more issue, but whatever happens, you can bet that VIETNAM ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST is going out with a major bang, and I for one can’t wait to get my grubby little paws on the finally issue.
Vietnam Zombie Holocaust will be available at Granite City Comic Con on the 29th April – 1st May, but if you can’t make it, you can grab yourself a copy from the Cult Empire online store.