Pop Culture Gadabout
Saturday, December 10, 2005
      ( 12/10/2005 07:15:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"G., WE ARE BAD ASS CHICKS FROM THE VALLEY." – Reading the first ish of Boom! Studio's newest addition to the burgeoning Zombie Tales franchise, Death Valley, I couldn't help thinking of the 1984 flick Night of the Comet. Like that PG-13 Apocalyptical romp, the comic mini-series centers around a firearms savvy Valley Girl (both heroines having been taught their way around a gun by their missing fathers) as she struggles to survive a star-sent catastrophe that's turned most of the world into flesh-eating zombies. Both works contain a mall shopping sequence and, more importantly, a certain sly teen-centric sense of humor about the End of the World As We Know It. If the movie edges out the comic simply by advantage of having Mary Woronov in it, well, them's just the breaks.

The story, by Andrew Cosby and Johanna Stokes (who seems to've handled all the scripting chores), concerns a cadre of high schoolers who accidentally get locked in the school fall-out shelter when some "strange solar activity" wipes across the world. Our group is composed of a fairly traditional h.s. cross-section (all the better for some hemmed-in tension) – perky coeds, jocks, a skateboarder named Shaggy and a bespectacled science nerd who sees something's comin' but he doesn't know what – while the zombies are all gray and blistery like they've been in the sun way too long. They're photo-sensitive, so they stay in the shadows and mainly come out at night.

The first of two 48-page issues introduces the characters (then kills a couple of 'em off) as they face their first day of a zombie-infested world. Best touch: a pet shop filled with ravenous zombie animals, but I also liked a scene when Ryan, realizing that he's alone in a world that's gone to hell, runs out of school to loudly freak-out. Artist Roald Marcellus has a lightly comic touch (check out those Hembeckian squiggles on our heroine's knees and elbows!) but he's not afraid to give us gore & entrails either. In one memorable moment, a zombie jumps through a window to attack one of our cast – and Marcellus sprays the whole bottom half of the book-width panel with a shower of blood. Rather reminded me of the Sam Peckinpah "version" of Salad Days, only without the white suits and boaters . . .

Good times for zombie fans, in other words: no pesky politics, just good clean unambiguous carnage. Much like Night of the Comet (which actually was set during the Xmas season, come to think of it), it's my idea of holiday entertainment . . .
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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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