Review by Shaun Daniels and Edited by Sharon Wong
Rex, Zombie Killer #1 Written by Rob Anderson, Art & Cover by DaFu Yu, Colors by Kevin Volo, Letters, Logo & Design by E.T. Dollman and Edited by Paul Allor. Pin-up Art by Mike Gallagher, Pin-up Colors by Kevin Volo, Pin-up Pencils by Stu Roddy and Pin-up Inks by Steve Bird. Published by Big Dog Ink.
Just when you thought the zombie genre was shot in the head and dead again, a book is rising to keep the genre stumbling on. Rex, Zombie Killer is giving its readers a dog’s eye view of the genre, literally. Rex, the scientifically-enhanced golden retriever, traverses the zombie-infested US of A. The oft overlooked and forgotten animal perspective of the world of zombie fiction makes for fresh storytelling and offers a unique look at the genre.
Rex is leading a ragtag pack of animals on a quest to find a government safe house in Nevada, which includes Kenji, the sign language-trained gorilla, Snowball, the once overly pampered fluffy white cat, Buttercup, the innocent and lovable corgi and Brutus, the mistreated pit bull. On their journey, they find themselves crossing paths with a threat far worse than zombies…humans. Brutus is abducted, only to be used for the voyeuristic entertainment pleasures of the group of humans. It’s up to Rex to devise a plan to spring their furry friend and continue on to Nevada. This is as most first issues should be, a table setter for the series/mini-series. Readers are filled in on the backstory by both flashbacks to Rex and Buttercup’s lives, and dialogue hinting at Kenji and Brutus’s lives pre-zombie.
Anderson weaves a charming yet horrific tale, allowing the reader to see the new zombified world through the eyes of the animals. The dynamics of the animal group is not all that different than that of a group of human survivors; Snowball is the rich person, who wants to do little to help unless it is more beneficial to her than the rest of her fellow travelers. Rex personifies the leader faced with hard decisions like his initial feeling of leaving Brutus behind until Kenji forces the rescue attempt. Buttercup represents the childlike view of the world while Kenji represents the survivor’s guilt/mistrust in leadership (Rex). One difference between human and animals characters is that the animals’ outlook of the world is naïve, simpler. Naïve and simple is no slight against them but rather an indication of their much less complex look at the world. This view is driven home by Kenji, who does not understand why the humans would capture dogs and use them for entertainment purposes. An interesting aspect to Kenji’s role in the group is his ability to open cans of food for the animals and to pick things up, an important task the other animals can’t perform.
First off, Yu does a fantastic job at showing the world through the eyes of the animals as seen in Rex’s flashback. All of the panels in said flashback are from a dog’s eye view as he sees his world collapse around him. Yu also balances the horrific nature while keeping a cartoonist sensibility. There is one downside to this book and it is the rendering of the dogs. It’s not uncommon to hear artists discuss the difficulty of drawing animals in comic books with the toughest part being the faces, especially the eyes. The dogs constantly have a scowl on their faces, mostly with Rex and Brutus, which could be on purpose but comes up short for the story. Buttercup is a corgi and it plays into his personality but it’s hard to distinguish what breed Buttercup is until he mentions it. There are strengths to Yu’s art in regards to the dogs, capturing their stances and movements perfectly.
Go to Bigdogink.com or Pandadogpress.com to plunk down your hard earned ducats for this 56-page opener of a fun (mini)series, available in April. When next time you watch Shaun of the Dead or Night of the Living Dead, remember that animals will probably outlive you and everyone else so you might want to follow their lead if you want to live.