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Welcome to 1968 and welcome to hell. In US Firebase Aries Central Highland, Vietnam. A Chinese-American by the name of Kuen (Sweet-Potato) Yam and a small platoon of solders are sent to investigate a series of attacks from a Vietnamese mortar pit. Before they head out, the base it attacked by a VC sniper, the same sniper that Corporal Love killed earlier. As Love takes aim he is shocked to see the same VC he killed is the one doing the shooting. Now half a klik from base camp Aries, Yam and his platoon are in the midst of taking out the enemy mortar team. After the carnage they discover a fox hole and due to his size, Yam volunteers to clear it out.
Back at base, the unit's resident doctor, Sam Russo has some disturbing news for the Commanding Officer Duncan. It seems some of the G. I.s that have died from their wounds just won't stay dead. Back in the fox hole, Yam makes his way deeper before he discovers that all the enemy's supplies have been exhausted. While navigating his way out of the tunnels he comes face to face with a young VC woman toting an AK. She doesn't hesitate to open fire on him. They trade shots until she disappears back into the tunnel. Topside the rest of the platoon waits for Yam's flare to relay the message that he's made it through. But before they can get it they are attacked by a horde of VC zombies. The fight causes Yam's tunnel to shake and as it does zombie arms begin to emerge from all around him. Fighting his way free, he finally makes his way topside to face a massive deformed zombie monster.
68' #1 kicks off a four issue mini from
Image that brings zombies to the 1960's and the Vietnam conflict.
It's written by Mark Kidwell (Bump), who brings the zombies
phenomenon to a new era and stomping ground with the location taking
place in the Asian Pacific. That is easily the narrative's strong
point. It's nice to see a fresh take on the same zombie story.
However there are a few speed bumps by the way of the character's
dialog. Mostly in the soldiers banter, they don't feel or come across
with the right tone and verbiage to be believable. Sometimes they
sound too movie cliche and other times it's too lax and modern. That
aside, the book does have some great moments. When Russo takes Duncan
back to the medical tent to show him the bodies and the hands of the
dead GI's are pulling the body bags open. Also when Yam is crawling
through the tunnel and the zombie hands swarm him and he just starts
hacking. Classic zombie story telling.
The art is handled by Jay Fotos & Nat Jones (Death Dealer) which adds to the book immensely. They create great look in the mangled corpses and the gritty jungle landscape. But the art really starts to shine when “head shots” start landing, they look awesome. As do “Zombiefied” iconic 60's photography such as Eddie Adams's Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing Nguyễn Văn Lém, a Viet Cong officer. It adds to the overall presentation of the book.
So yeah, '68 is yet another zombie book in the long line of zombie books. Do we really need it? Who knows? Does it bring anything remotely new to the genre? It's really too early to say. Is it fun to read or worth experiencing in the least bit? Yes it is. Why? Because the team behind 68' actually come across as horror fans and it shows in their work and the details. There are sparks of horror not just a bunch of recycled zombie crap. If you are writing a “scary anything”, understand that detail because that's what people will remember. That's what will make your story classic to horror fans. So if there is a lesson to all this, it's the details. Never, ever forget the details.
Overall Score – 8.2/10