Publisher: Caliber Comics
Writers: Bradley Golden, Alex Barranco, Marcus H. Roberts, Peter & John Breau, Joe Wight
Artists: Phil Williams, Antonio Acevedo, Dan Gorman, Harrison Wood, Rod Espinoza
Playing out like a re-run of George A. Romero’s 1982 American horror comedy anthology film “Creepshow”, complete with its own ghoulish narrator, creator Bradley Golden’s “tale of horror based in the rural state of Mississippi” must have delighted any gore fans out there with its mix of grisly mutilations, genuinely touching emotional moments, and last-minute acts of desperate bravery.
Indeed, despite the brevity of some of this graphic novel’s yarns of brain-munching mayhem, every story will arguably leave an indelible impression upon the mind of its readers, whether it be caused by a hapless soldier suddenly realising he won’t ever be playing video games with his son again, or a heavily bearded local drunk shockingly coming face-to-face with the zombie apocalypse he thought his government were just lying about…
Initiating this plethora of “horror and dismemberment” is Golden’s very own “Mississippi Crossing”, which briefly depicts a trio of tales arguably set during the early days of the Undead uprising. Enthusiastically pencilled by Phil Williams, there’s a disconcertingly gripping terror to be seen in the faces of the figures ‘stumbling’ upon the gore-fest exploding around them, with Private John Hilliard’s brave final stand against a gigantic zombie horde “coming from south of here near Yazoo” proving especially poignant.
Bradley’s penmanship, alongside co-writer Alex Barranco, is equally as heart-breaking in “Grave Times”, which follows the desperate efforts of Theodore Brown to keep his marriage alive despite the fact his wife has become ill with an untreatable sickness. Everyone in this comic’s audience will undoubtedly know what is in store for poor Angela, but what is surprising, and resultantly enthralling, is the change her zombification has upon her devoted husband. Clearly a very morally-upright and adoring partner, Theodore’s decline into a grave-robber is wonderfully written within the space of just seven-pages, to the point where, despite his misguided criminal acts, any bibliophiles will surely feel he deserved better than the grisly fate which ultimately befalls him.
Adding to the grim nature of this particular story are Antonio Acevedo’s layouts, whose heavily-pencilled shadowing makes Brown’s world even darker to the perusing eye. Packed full of delicate details, such as the tangible rot on Juan Perez’s coffin lid, this narrative is made all the more haunting by the look in Angela’s eyes as she sees her aghast husband pitifully watching her feast upon a corpse and becomes enraged (or extra-hungry) at the sight; “And just like that, the zombie outbreak in Madison starts.”
Much more your typical campfire fright-fest feature than the two terrifying tales which preceded it, Marcus H. Roberts’ “Zombie Attack on Horn Island” is this anthology’s sole historical contribution, and resultantly provides an enjoyable romp back to yesteryear when American settlers had little to hand with which to fend off the flesh-chomping cadavers threatening them, except muzzle-loading firearms and a trusty wood-axe. Firmly focused upon the flight of the Johnstone family from an island packed full of the walking dead, this twelve-page chronicle is well-paced with plenty of pulse-pounding moments as Adam desperately attempts to keep the zeds at bay as his panic-stricken wife, daughter and friend try to run to the safety of a nearby vessel.
Crammed with examples of heroic sacrifice, misplaced elation, and just plain old bad luck, this headlong dash for survival is well-drawn by Dan Gorman, whose old-school styled pencils will surely take the more mature comic reader back to the days of the early Seventies and “Weird Mystery Tales” by “DC Comics”. Indeed, the artist’s ability to imbue his characters with plenty of dynamism as they’re chopping heads, spilling putrid guts and blowing out brains, somewhat imitates all the charm of such Bronze Age greats like Luis Dominguez or Abe Ocampo.
Further fixed in the post-apocalyptic world, complete with zombie panthers, pirate galleys and pet crocodiles, Peter and John Breau’s “It’s All About Commerce” definitely has a story to tell about old college friendships, and the sense of trust those relationships develop during a time when everything seems to want to eat your flesh. Initially concentrating upon having good cardio, similar to Columbus’s rule #1 in the 2009 comedy film “Zombieland”, this ultimately successful ‘last stand’ has some nicely penned moments where experience and a pre-conceived plan of attack certainly help increase one’s chances of survival; “Raina… Play 14.”
Harrison Wood’s artwork also adds a nice claustrophobic element to the storytelling, with many of his panels being populated by all manner of undead nightmares, such as bulldogs, fearsomely-tusked wild boars, and even a slithering King Cobra. These cluttered scenes make it seem almost impossible for anyone to even raise a barbed-wired bat in anger, let alone bludgeon a reeking ghoul to bloody bits, yet it also makes the trio’s final moments together all the more tense, as zombie after zombie appear from the woodland surrounding them.
Finally, this graphic novel finishes with Joe Wight’s futuristic “Planet Z”, which rather enticingly teases that Judgement Day isn’t simply going to be confined to a single world of the ever-expanding human empire. Prodigiously pencilled by Rod Espinosa, this frantically-fast account of a factory facility suddenly being overrun by a gazillion ghouls contains some eye-wateringly gruesome deaths, especially once the plant’s security is deployed, and genuinely leaves the reader wanting to see more of Mister Adams’ exploits, if not his singing…
You can grab yourself a copy of Mississippi Zombie from Amazon by CLICKING HERE.