You Missed that Issue?! Rex, Zombie Killer One-Shot
Welcome to another addition of "You Missed that Issue?!" where I talk spoiler
-heavy about a comic book you've probably never heard of but should definitely pick-up! This week we have a one-shot, Rex, Zombie Killer
, which recently spawned a mini-series.
It's mind-boggling how one change in a normally standard zombie apocalypse story can make a comic into a unique, never been seen before story – and one that I'd be happy to see again. That one awesome change? Instead of humans who travel in a post-apocalyptic world, writer Rob Anderson decided to treat use instead to a band of animals consisting of a cat, three dogs and a gorilla.
The idea is bizarre and only something a comic book could get away with. Each of the four main animals talk to each other (though they can't be understood by humans). Four is the perfect number of characters with each animal given their own distinct personality along with some interesting backstories – and that's more than I can say for most humans in comics!
First you have the titular Rex, a golden retriever whose super intelligent, thanks to his backstory, which is the most interesting of all the animals: he was raised in a laboratory by a kind scientist. The flashback with her is especially touching in this issue. Kenji is a gorilla who grew up in a language institute. He learned sign language and is also really good at killing zombies. Brutus is a rough-and-tumble kind of pitbull and I wish his origins were explored in the actual comic, but in the useful mini-character bios on the intro page, because it mentions he was owned by a drug dealer. Then there's the optimistic Corgi mix Buttercup who lost her mother in a pound (another depressing story). Last, but he certainly wouldn't consider himself last, is Snowball, a pampered white cat whose ego could fill a litter box five times over. These animals often clash and their interactions with each other always fit their personality and make them grow on you pretty fast. I was rooting for them to succeed by the end.
Like every other zombie tale, this comic does not use the word "zombie." I know "walkers" caught on from The Walking Dead
but I'm partial to Rex, Zombie Killer's terminology: "rotters." Just like I prefer just about everything else in this comic.
There's a lot that's unanswered here, including: Why did the zombie apocalypse break out? Why can different animals understand each other? How long has the apocalypse been going on? These questions prove unimportant and add to the mystique of the comic and makes me look forward to reviewing the mini-series. There's also a goal in the story that isn't just survival (like every other zombie comic around). The animals are trying to survive, of course, but they're also looking for Rex's owner, who is all the way in Nevada, which is a bit of a walk from California. In the meantime, the adventures our colorful cast get into involving a group of bikers that make dogs fight to the death with rotters is suspenseful and entertaining.
The artwork is solid all around. Dafu Yu makes the animals look cuddly or tough, depending on their personality. Though if you're looking for bloodshed you won't find much of that here (though there is some
blood). All the violence is very cartoony with lots of comic book sound effects. Even though I usually hate overlining, I don't mind the excessive amount of lines on characters here since they serve pretty well as shadowing. Sometimes animal's emotions and movements look a little stiff. Backgrounds are usually a dreary gray but rarely degrade into lazy single colors. There is one awkward two page spread that has dotted arrows which reminds me of Pacman and wasn't really necessary. Though it does do a useful name introduction... which is pointless if you read the introduction page. But the artwork, while not spectacular, suits the tone of the one-shot.
If you want a zombie comic that pulls at your heartstrings versus spurts blood every panel, and you want to see some animals with winning personalities and backstories, this is a definite recommendation.