Escape Of The Living Dead
Author(s): John A. Russo
Illustrated: Dheeraj Verma
Publisher: Avatar Press
Publication Date: 2005/6
A five-issue series written by legendary Zombie filmmaker and novelist John Russo, and unsurprising like much of his work, set soon after, almost in a parallel universe after the events of the Night of the Living Dead, with this story taking place in Pensylvania, 1971.
The story wastes no time in getting to the action, ignoring providing the reader with a back story, with it being assumed that due to the Russo link that you might link to the events of three years previous in Night of the Living Dead, which does add an extra level to the story for fans of the genre.
As mentioned, the action kicks off immediately with a police team raiding a medical laboratory which had been the scene of reanimation experiments by a mysterious Dr. Melrose, seemingly resulting in the death of the lead scientist. Combine this with interlinked stories following a criminal biker gang and a local family who run the town bar and we are taken on a journey where the zombies aren’t the only thing to be scared of.
Zombie Fear Factor: ****
The zombies here have one thing in mind, eating and killing every living human in sight, although as this isn’t the first zombie outbreak the authorities and many civilians are well versed in dealing with small numbers of zombies, although as ever once these creatures get together they soon become capable of taking over.
Zombie Behaviour: *****
As expected of something by Russo the zombies are slow, shambling and decaying creatures with an unbelievable level of perseverance once they get sight of living flesh. Put simply these are the perfect ghouls for fans of Romero’ style zombies and you will not be disappointed here. Interestingly, one jacketed hippy zombie seems to be in the right place every time and with an ambiguous end it would be interesting to learn what makes this one zombie so special.
Zombie Threat: *****
These monsters are bred to eat our flesh that is all they want in this series, and for unseen reasons they seem to be populating their ranks with significant success, highlighting that there are just too many to stop, it may be impossible to fully ensure the plague is eradicated.
Gore Content: *****
This is the raison d’être for the comic and it delivers, covering everything a teenage boy would want as the illustrations are filled with tits, ass and gore. For fans of the more extreme side of zombie cinema, this will also appeal as it cuts a strong visual figure so to speak, and does not hold any thing back.
Overall Quality: ***
This is an odd one to review, objectively it ticks all the right boxes, high on action and graphically spot on, well drawn and coloured and the zombie behaviour is spot on as it follows a functional plot however the dialogue like a low-budget zombie flick is sometime left wanting and through focusing on action at the expense of character development the whole process seems rather shallow and after finishing the series, sadly forgettable.
As a result, this isn’t for everyone, as its throw away plot and reliance on excess sits on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum to recent phenomenon like The Walking Dead and some readers may feel underwhelmed and unrewarded by investing time in the series, not to mention some may see it as puerile and crass.
However, to others (and younger male zombie fans) it may also be one of the best zombie graphic novels out there as it eschews plot and atmosphere and gets right down to the zombie money shots as often as possible, going from one set-piece to another and provides a quick blast of entertainment, which no doubt was the aim behind it.