Publisher: Image Comics
Writers: Brian Buccellato & Jennifer Young
Artist: Matias Bergara
Release Date: 5th October 2016
After a hurricane unleashes a horde of ancient mosquitos carrying a virulent, long-gestating strain of yellow fever, Global Medicine Management rush an antivirus called Y-PAK to market to combat the disease. This has a devastating side-effect — causing those treated with the drug to have an uncontrollable thirst for human flesh.
The series focuses on the small town of Willow as the virus threatens to turn into a pandemic. Until now untouched by the gruesome crimes being committed by those infected, this sleepy backwater of Florida has its first murder which galvanises the locals, causing tension and distrust amongst the tight-knit community. Soon a hastily-formed vigilante mob is scouring the Everglades for the killer, putting the townsfolk and local law enforcement at loggerheads.
In the midst of all this we are introduced to estranged brothers Cash and Grady Hansen. Cash is happy with his lot, a hometown boy working in their fathers bar whilst Grady has long since left to explore the horizon beyond the humdrum town he grew up in.
Writers Brian Buccellato and Jennifer Young have put an thoughtful twist on a tired premise, as their infected are more akin to drug addicts desperately fighting their compulsion. These infected are not the Kirkman/Romero zombies currently in vogue; these are everyday people able to function relatively normally but slowly succumbing to an horrific compulsion. They are not bereft of rational thought and emotion; they are your family, friends and co-workers afflicted with a terrifying addiction, desperate for help and unable to control their deadly impulses.
The reaction of those not infected also imbues the story with an all-too-believable political undercurrent bubbling under the surface that feels horribly timely with the divisive nature of current US politics in this world of the Alt-Right and BLM.
Artist Matias Bergara is a great fit for a title like this. From the moss-encrusted, oppressive Bayou humidity to the desperation of the faces of those afflicted, his art is all slashed brushstrokes and dark lines that are perfect for the story.
It’s another solid debut from Image, steeped in the tradition of Southern Gothic and Zombie Apocalypse narratives but with a unique, scary and prescient twist.
To find out more about CANNIBAL, you can check out our interview with Brian Buccellato, Jennifer Young and Matias Bergara by CLICKING HERE.
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The writer of this piece was: Chris Downs
Chris Tweets from @ChrisDownsy