Written by: Jonathan Maberry Art by: Tony Vargas Coloured by: Oliver Lee Arce Published by: IDW Publishing
Welcome to the world 15 years after the zombie apocalypse, where 7 billion flesh hungry undead fiends seek to sate their unending hunger with the rarefied flesh of the living. In Rot & Ruin: Warrior Smart, we join Benny Imura and his 3 cohorts as they face an impossible mission, that of following on the heels of a jumbo jet.
Benny is the younger brother of the fallen, yet heroic, Tommy Imura; a legend in the zombie apocalypse era. Tom was a sword wielding samurai. In the absence of his older brother Benny has taken on more of a sense of responsibility in life and taken up the sword.
The story is quite functional, in terms of zombie material it’s almost a painting by numbers affair. As a first issue we are introduced into the world of Rot & Ruin, a run through of the characters and their relationships to one another. If you are a seasoned zombie aficionado then you will already know this run through, even with the mild peril of a zombie pack attack at the end of the book.
The range of characters is a standard team set up; the young but mildly noble leader (Benny), the feral warrior Lilah, Benny’s girlfriend Nix (a freckled redhead) and Benny’s best friend and somewhat clutz of a man, Chong. The characterisation is handled well, and you do get a back story for Benny in the opening section of the book. The interplay within the group is not too heavily handled, so it doesn’t drag. As a first issue it is paced well, which you’d expect from the author. If the Rot & Ruin comic is to really make a mark on the zombie universe then subsequent issues will need to ramp up the tension, the action and the horror. The art from Vargas is, like the story itself, quite functional. The zombies are okay to look at, a few are quite interesting in a visual sense.
Given the nature of the team behind the book, I was hoping for a really meaty book, one that either blazed a trail in the zombie genre and gave us something new, or to nail the concept with blood, guts and that all important pervading terror that is a staple of the classic zombie concept. What we get though is a zombie preamble. I hope the book picks up in issue 2.