Pop Culture Gadabout
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
      ( 3/29/2006 05:37:00 PM ) Bill S.  


"LIKE BEACH . . . LIKE EAT . . ." – Is Zombie Tales: The Dead the concluding volume in Boom! Studios' entertaining anthology series? Probably not, but it still feels like it – in part because two of its serial stories (Giffen/Lim's "Dead/Deader/Deadest Meat" and Cosby/Moon's "I, Zombie") read like they've reached their respective conclusions. In the first, the zombie narrator's brain cells have so deteriorated that by chapter's end he can no longer recount his own story, while the second gives us a happy ending of sorts as our title hero finds his own small version of a nuclear family. Nuthin' like a little brain-dead romance to make a zombie apocalypse endurable . . .

Watching the book's talent continue to wring fresh stories out of zombiedom provides its own small pleasures, though. I'm especially enamored with Michael Alan Nelson & Lee Moder's dark take on Catholic religio conspiracies (timely, wot?), "The Miracle of Bethany," while the central joke in John Rogers & Ed Tadim's "Four Out of Five" elicited one of those Why didn't I think of that? chuckles for the way it takes a basic part of the zombie death-style and plays with it. Less successful, though admirably genre-bending, were Johanna Stokes & Cynthia Martin's attempt at an animal zombie story (a decent idea that isn't as believably realized as, say, Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson's wonderful "Stray") and Jim Pascoe, Don Simpson & Chris Moreno's "A Game Called Zombie," which attempts to blend zombie and ghost stories but doesn't quite give us enough to accept the full mash-up. Both stories arguably chomp off more than they can chew, though you've gotta admire the effort.

From the ads in the back of the book, it looks like most of Zombie's talents are switching their allegiances to Lovecraftian horrors with the upcoming Cthulhu Tales. Lovecraft is trickier to translate effectively into comics than a plain ol' visceral undead flesh-eater, but it can be done. (Just ask Mike Mignola.) I'm looking forward to seeing what the usual suspects conjure up . . .
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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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