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An odd little title, I draw the line at saying Zombie Outlaw is corny. The artwork is sometimes too awkward with little detail, the story has some slight pacing issues and not all of the jokes work. But Zombie Outlaw is a surprisingly creative little gem that stands out from the usually zombie title. It is not only a great addition for horror collectors, but also humorists who enjoy a little blood with their jokes.
“The Geek” Matt Naismith wants to seduce the beautiful “Brawn” K.T. Delaney (men and big biceps, who would have thought?). He goes to his friend “the Brain” Will Simers for help, which he swears to provide after flirting with the librarian and stealing Zombie Outlaw legend Edward Dransby’s hat… which leads to entertaining and crazy results.
The greatest thing Zombie Outlaw has going for it is how unique it is from other zombie titles. When you hear “zombie title” you automatically jump to tons of gore and flimsy plotlines with no character reaching a greater depth than “slutty girl #2.” Zombie Outlaw manages to avoid most of these negativities, with some only slightly significant problems gracing it’s pages.
Writer Brian J. Apodaca has crafted some very unique characters. Instead of the usual slutty girlfriend the protagonist is trying to woo, we are given K.T., a brawny babe with muscles that would make Popeye jealous. Will Simers is also a very unique take on a done-to-death character. As “the Brain” you would expect him to be an outright nerd and not the smooth-talker he is who can successfully woo women’s phone numbers into his pocket.
The only problem character-wise, and unfortunately the character it is worst to go wrong with, is the main character who is your clichéd geek. His potential as something unique feels wasted, but he is still one of the most likable in the cast of characters despite his lack of new qualities that every other major character has. Granted, none of these characters are very developed since it is only the first issue, so there is more time for Matt to develop into a unique character.
The important thing to keep in mind while reading Zombie Outlaw is that it is not taking itself seriously, so neither should you. It has a very comical feel with little bloodshed and has a cartoonish quality art style to keep up this very comfy, cozy, rampaging zombie feel. The jokes are not extremely funny, but most are tolerable and nothing is head-smackingly bad (though it would have been nice to have a few corny jokes to counter-balance the mediocre ones). It had the potential of being extremely funny, but humor took a back-seat to every else going on.
The story is obviously not complex, but is very quickly paced. It still does not feel rushed, but does bring up some simple questions like why Matt’s best-friend is so busy getting a dead guy’s hat that he can not even spare a second before-hand to help him out with his girl-problems.
The artwork is both a hit and a miss. Artist B. Paul Jordan has a lot of talent but he uses it sporadically in this issue making the artwork look like it was done by three different people, hurting the consistency of the comic.
Jordan’s first art style is his most used: it is extremely cartoonish, with background’s that get as simplistic as plain color schemes, with over exaggerated expressions (i.e. the classic eyes-popping-out-of-your-head-imagery). His character designs feature pop-eye armed people with heads so large they would cause a normal person to topple over. None of the expressions are as comical as I would have liked, but the cartoon feel does go well with the vibe the comic has. The odd quirk that this comic had, which was the slightly off-putting fact that everyone’s arms have Popeye’s rippling muscles, is a distracting quality. This is especially odd since Matt’s and Will’s biceps look like they outweigh K.T.’s by twenty pounds, and she is supposed to be “the Brawn.”
The second style of Jordan’s is illustrations for a book within this comic book (wrap that around your head). The imagery is sleeker and a hundred times better than the default cartoonish qualities, making you want to read that book within the comic book more than the actual comic book itself since it features a slew of grotesquely mutated piles of mush-like zombies. However, that sleek style is much more beneficial to a more serious comic. His default style was definitely the best way to go for this series.
The last style of Jordan’s is only in two full panel pages featuring a messy transformation scene. The artwork is solid but each individual piece of it is so jumbled together it is hard to tell what is going on, which takes away from the impact of the scene.
While all over the place, Jordan’s sleek and cartoonish artwork is good and I would like to see how he incorporates into more of his comics in the future (preferably an entire comic in the sleek point of view rather than the Popeye nature) but his chosen style fits the tone well and his transformation scenes, while jumbled, were drawn well – just not positioned well enough to be able to tell what was going on without giving the images a good once-over.
This is not a title that will be the “end-all-be all,” but it is clearly not trying to be. It is just a fun title with an impressive – if inconsistent – art style and a cast of creative – if not in-depth – characters. It has to work harder to get a funny bone, but the uniqueness and artwork balance it out quite nicely. If you are looking for a cartoon zombie story that is unique and has a “web-comic” feel, this is a good title to try if you have a few extra bucks to spend.