New Reviews

Dylan Park, Dan Reneau, “Zombiraq: War of the Undead” Review


Written by: Josh Hancock

As horror audiences anxiously await the return of The Walking Dead to network television, they might also bemoan the state of zombie fiction at the moment. While the turbulent tale of Rick Grimes and his band of anti-heroes continues to score impressive ratings, other works set within the living dead universe seem to fall off the face of the earth (the disaster that was the World War Z movie, the film version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Schwarzenegger’s Maggie, just to name a few). But the crowdfunding website www.indiegogo.com has been trending lately with an exciting project that has captured the attention of zombie fanatics throughout the world—an impressive debut from a writer/artist duo that is sure to satisfy even the most desensitized horror crowd.

Written by veteran Dylan Park and drawn by artist Dan Reneau, Zombiraq: War of the Undead tells the frightening, all-too-real story of a specialized Air Force detachment deployed to Northern Iraq in order to battle a growing insurgence of enemy soldiers. When the men arrive, they quickly learn that this foreign land holds many secrets and lethal dangers—and not all of them are human.

Park’s writing—his ear for punchy, realistic dialogue and his knack for vivid and powerful imagery—puts Zombiraq in a class of its own. As I read the first installment of the comic (a whopping 60-page double issue), I found myself completely immersed in the chaotic world that Park presents. The characters and settings (including a terrifying scene set within the cobwebbed shadows of an ancient cemetery, and a bone-chilling moment inside a plane cargo hold) are based in part on Park’s own wartime experiences in Iraq, and it is for this reason that Zombiraq will grab readers and refuse to let go. However, Park not only knows how to deliver the horror goods; he depicts characters that we come to know and love, the dialogue rich with their passions, their humor, their pathos, and their courage. The language and details are authentic and engrossing as Park merges his talents as a fiction writer with his knowledge of technical military details (up-armored humvees, Chinook helicopters, thermal drone footage, and night vision goggles are just a few of the many details littered throughout the narrative). In many ways, the cinematic nature of Zombiraq reminded me of Oliver Stone’s Platoon or Born on the Fourth of July. Though not in the horror genre, those films refused to shy away from the atrocities of war. Neither does Zombiraq, so be prepared for a double-dose of terror. Part-horror and part-war memoir, this new comic book series will most likely run for 6 issues and should captivate the attention of anyone who opens its well-detailed pages.

As Park’s story unfolds, the American soldiers embed themselves in the city of Kirkuk, a dark place of abandoned cars, bodies slain by bullets and knives, and roaming insurgents (some of whom are able to withstand an onslaught of bullets…). To capture such horrifying imagery, Park turned to award-winning illustrator Dan Reneau, whose visual style is striking in its use of deep, attractive lines and details that bring Iraq to life in both haunting and poetic ways. Reneau’s dark colors capture the dust and the dirt, the gloom and the shadows, and the looming terror that the soldiers face around every corner, while his depiction of intense action sequences will draw readers in on every page.

An outstanding debut from a young and talented team, Zombiraq will scare you–but it will also make you question the chameleonic relationship between human nature and war.

Rating: 5/5

To keep abreast of forthcoming Zombiraq news, to learn more about the creators and see some concept art, and to even contribute to the cause of getting this series in print, visit here

 

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