“ULTIMATE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: GENESIS” (Comic Book Review)Books/Art/Culture,News,Reviews Svetlana Fedotov
Marvel and DC have paved the way for comic companies to release simultaneous first issues of comics that are centered on a universal event. Whether it’s the monumental event of DC’s New 52 that followed the Infinite Crisis storyline a few years ago or just Marvel wanting unite all their characters under one timeline later this fall, it’s become fairly common to see multiple characters and story arcs starting over all at once. But what happens when a brand new, interconnected universe is launched by ten different comics with ten different stories? Double Take’s newest work ULTIMATE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: GENESIS is what happens.
An overarching zombie storyline inspired by George A. Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD infected ten creative teams as they are let loose on the paper to write their own stories about the spreading madness. Each team (though some do share artists or writers) has their individual character or characters who all live in the same town in Pennsylvania, and all face the rising fear that is the undead! This shotgun blast of horror comics is not only an homage to NOTLD, but continues the story from the same time period down to the very same infected Venus probe thought to have brought these ‘ghouls’ to life.
Each of the comics can be bought either individually or in a super-pack, and offer a variety of stories for the discerning reader. They range from the medical horror drama “Medic,” where a car wrecked couple get trapped in hospital filled with more than just dead bodies to “Rise,” the story of the original NOTLD brother-and-sister team told from Johnny’s perspective. There’s also “Dedication” about a team of grocery store clerks who can’t quite figure out why their customers are a little on the slow side today; “Spring,” a tale of long haired hippies who can’t get enough of skinny dipping in dangerous waters; “Slab about the emergency broadcaster who breaks the news of the invasion on TV sets all over the country, and more.
Of course, with so many stories, it’s no wonder GENESIS is a bit of a mixed bag. What was done right was done with the passion and curiosity of genuine fans of the NOTLD franchise, but what was wrong, went wrong hard and brought a lot of the works down. Specifically, the stories themselves are what was handled right. Each comic felt very comprehensive to the overall body of work while still maintaining its unique vision. Some were already of the comics were already over-lapping in very subtle ways, such as the emergency broadcaster appearing in various televisions.
There are even cute, New Yorker-style comics in the beginning of the issues and fake show guides and recipes for a true, 1960’s experience. GENESIS also offers some solid, if not weird, humor tossed into them as well, with a personal favorite being the little girl in “Home” who constantly cusses everyone out and yet no one seems to notice. The banter spattered throughout the comics is fun to read and none of the works ever seem to drag on longer than necessary.
Unfortunately, the art in every issue seems to suffer from some sort of setback. It’s very unusual to have illustration problems in every work, but each one either has poor art, poor inking, poor coloring, or, for some of the unsightly souls, all three. The worst offenders seem to be “Remote” and “Honor.” Though both are done by different artists, they both have stiff character movements, poor or mistimed facial expressions, terrible depth placements, color faded backgrounds, and in “Remote” in particular, incredibly amateur art. At least with “Honor,” the artist seemed to have some grasp of human mechanics; in fact, that’s about all most of the artists can do. These are contributors who can more-or-less draw but don’t know how to apply it to comic work.
Also, a lot of the comics either have scratchy inking or lack it completely and the coloring is applied haphazardly on what appears to be quick photoshop job. That’s not to say that there wasn’t ANY good art, most notably being “Spring” and “Medic,” who, despite being dragged down by either bad inking/coloring/or Xeroxing, the figures and movements, along with the panel layouts, are very good. These works are by far the standouts and with some proper fixing up, can create some solid careers for the two artists, Derelis Santacruz and Marco Castiello.
Ultimately, taking the passionate writing but poor art, it seems like this series launch was a case of ‘eyes bigger than the stomach’ kind of thing. It’s almost like the company had a great idea but not enough resources to pull it off properly and ended up with a rushed look. Perhaps doing a several small launches versus one large launch might have given Double Take more time to take care of the details, but as it is, it seems incomplete. It’s hard to say if it’s worth the purchase, but it’s worth a peek at least to fans of the NOTLD line.