Zombies and comics seem a pretty common thing these days so when taking a look at Undead End #1 by creator J. Wright my first worry was that it would blend in with all the other zombie titles out there……but I’m fairly open to giving things a chance before jumping to any conclusions.
This first issue in the three issue run introduces us to Dean…..a 20-something hypochondriac who still stays with his mom in his home town of Rockaway. Working as a pizza delivery driver for his hard-assed boss, Mr Franco brings him into direct contact with people he’s grown up with and they all seem to be doing better than Dean. Heading off to college or big jobs in the city that bring them the success of money, girls & status….all while Dean goes through his mundane routine. Although a silver-lining for him gives him some hope as Molly – his classmate/love-interest returns to the town to house sit for parents…..just in time to give Dean the slimmest hope of a date which every man down on his luck needs right?
Things change though for this quiet town as a military convoy carrying a secret cargo passes through the town only to bring trouble and the apocalypse. Some spilled cargo and infected locals later and it’s a town of disease-ridden, flesh-eating zombies…..perfect for a hypochondriac 20-something to deal with. Heading back to the pizza place Dean gets the pleasure of running into an infected Mr Falco and silver-lining #2 he gets to kill him….albeit he freaks out at the insanity his life has now become.
It’s all a fairly standard setup as you’d expect but the strong characters Wright develops and the pacing of the plot is the key to separating this from the zombie comic crowd. The “everyman” feel to Dean as he develops as our unwilling & unexpected survivor who will surely develop into becoming our hero grows quickly and the smart dialogue & subtle jokes between the characters only help bolster that feeling. Wright also does a fantastic job on the artwork and it’s reminiscent of something far more mainstream than a small press book and with Wright providing colours & lettering, the ties between all these elements give this opener a labour of love feel to it with one person in charge of everything. ….which in itself gives me something I can relate to.
Quirky, realistic characters that are instantly likeable combine with Wright’s impressive artwork bring us a book which has that underlying vibe of “cult classic” to it – think Army of Darkness or Shaun of the Dead and you’ve got a fair idea of what I’m getting at.
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