Review: Grim Crew Presents: Dead Future #6
“A Sort of Homecoming” Writer & Letterer: Josh Gorfain Artist: Martin Ho “De-Coffinated” Writer: Sebastian Piccione Artist: Mike Dreher Letterer: Martin Brandt II “Ragnarokz” Writer & Letterer: Martin Brandt II Artist: Sergio Videla “Killer Promotions” Writer: Dino Caruso Artist: Lou Manna Letterer: Martin Brandt II Publisher: Grim Crew Comics In this final issue of Dead Future, Grim Crew Comics’ flagship title, a bit of different fare is presented to us. Dead Future has made a name for itself by providing readers with diverse collections of zombie-related stories in each issue and this is no exception. As in previous issues the book is divided into separate stories, in this case four from four different creative teams, and each will be reviewed separately. I would like to say, first and foremost, that Paul Petyo’s cover is truly incredible. He has put together some exceptionally engaging covers for this series but this is by far my favorite. The first story “A Sort of Homecoming” features characters we caught a glimpse of in a previous issue, though which one escapes me at the moment. The premise is that a group of survivors have banded together in a sort of paramilitary survival group and run “missions” from a safe base of operations, typically for essential supplies and the like. In this particular case, they head to a “secret” base that may contain food, ammunition or possibly a vaccine against the zombie virus. The artist, Martin Ho, has a very good sense of panel balance and makes excellent use of positive and negative space. The layouts of each page, while nothing extraordinary, are solid. The artist needs to work on some basic anatomy issues, however, as the human figures never look quite right and change slightly from page to page. Still, practice makes perfect and I’ve seen far worse art. The writing, however, left me completely flat. The story itself is a bit unbelievable, even for zombie-based fiction. If Arthur knew of a “secret” installation that may contain supplies and a zombie vaccine, even if he believed it had been compromised, why not mention it to his group sooner? This is even brought up within the story, but no good answer is provided. On the other hand, if he knew the base was compromised why not just say so right from the start and be done with it? The bad guy seeding zombies, evidently far enough away from the secret base that the protagonists needed to make a road trip to find it, with flash drives just made the premise a bit ludicrous. The ending, which I suppose was intended to be shocking, just seemed like an ending. I know I was supposed to feel something for Arthur, but I didn’t. Beyond that, the dialogue vacillated between stilted and unnatural to generic. The characters, except the bad guy, didn’t seem to have individual voices and most of the lines could have been said by any of the other characters without an effect on the story. The second piece, “De-Coffinated” is a short tale comparing zombies risen from the grave to your average cubical dweller. As one myself (cubical dweller), I can relate. The story is light and moves quickly, as dialogue is virtually non-existent and most pages only have two panels. Sebastian Piccione has done what I expect he set out to do: tell a short, semi-humorous story. The glimmer is there, but it doesn’t quite shine. It felt like the story was leading up to something, but never quite makes it to the top of the hill. The punch-line might have worked better if this had been a shorter tale. Mike Dreher’s art was competent; it showed a style that has been developed and has that semi-slick quality seen frequently in independent comics. I liked his rendition of the zombie, especially his facial expressions, though some of the humans (aside from the main character) seemed to have overly exaggerated faces. In context, it works however. The third story, “Ragnarokz”, is an interesting take on the zombie theme of this series. Tying back to the cover, this story features both werewolves fighting zombies and a zombie werewolf. The story drops us into the middle of a situation we’re given no real background on: some sort of scientific facility with both zombie virus-infected corpses and a werewolf who has been given a vaccine (the anti-lycanthropy vaccine, I believe. I was a bit unclear whether it was for this, or zombism) which seems not to be working. When the infected corpses rise, the werewolf charges into battle only to be bitten and infected himself. He then goes on to spread a kind of zombie lycanthropy virus. I very much liked artist Sergio Videla’s renditions of the werewolves. It is obvious he’s had a good deal of practice drawing this kind of subject. The werewolves have a kind of anatomy that doesn’t seem far-fetched, at least on paper, and come alive when in motion. The normal humans, however, have a cartoony, unreal quality that is at odds with the werewolves. Whether this is intentional, to keep the reader’s focus on the werewolves and off of the normal humans, I couldn’t definitively say, though I suspect not. Martin Brandt’s story is solid. As I said, we are dropped into the middle of a situation we are given no real information on, but the reader can glean enough from context to pick up where things are headed and go along for the ride. There are a few places were the dialogue might be tweaked to seem more natural, but it only pops up occasionally. Overall, I enjoyed seeing a rare zombie-versus-werewolf rumble. The final story, “Killer Promotions,” was my favorite of this issue. The story is simple enough: a pair of professional zombie hunters must find a way to keep their business alive after laws are passed giving zombies legally protected status. No more zombie killing? No problem. Dino Caruso’s story is short, to the point, and exactly what a four-page comic story should be. A quick set up, a little very basic character development, a conflict presented and a resolution reached. The dialogue moved the story along and the pacing was perfect. This is the type of story I could easily see in the pages of 2000AD as a “Future Shocks” installment. Thumbs up. Lou Manna’s art, unfortunately, kept the story from being stronger. The pencils were very good and he definitely has some talent. The “inking” however was sloppy at best and detracted from the art quite a bit. What at first seems to be an artistic choice quickly turns into a mess. It is uneven throughout and toward the end of the story turns into scribbles. Disappointing as with some attention paid to the inking, the art could have been as top notch as the writing. While this is the last issue of Dead Future, I hope Grim Crew doesn’t stop putting out new anthologies. Independent anthologies are always a mixed bag, but you take the good with the not-so-good and there has been more than enough good in this series that I will miss having another issue to look forward to. You can pick up "Grim Crew Presents: Dead Future #6" over at Drivethrucomics.com and for more information head over to TheDeadFuture.com.