Infestation breaks loose. Let the complete saturation of the zombie crossover begin!
How does a company that owns rights to several enormously popular — but entirely separate — franchises successfully achieve a massive company crossover? Is it even possible? Investation #1 marks the kick-off of the first ever event for IDW, something that is both tricky and enterprising due to the diverse and copyrighted characters that fall under their creative umbrella. Adding to the mix their own exclusive titles and the potential for a messy situation is high. It would seemingly impossible to achieve a successful, cohesive story when separate fictional universes not being able to mingle with each other.
Enter the Z. Zombies are like ranch dressing: they go with everything. In the last decade, we’ve seen the straightforward concept of flesh-eating undead creep into comedies (Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland), videogames (Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead), Westerns (Red Dead Redemption), literature (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and I don’t need to inform you about a certain show on AMC. Michael Chabon once wrote that the there are two incontestable villains in fiction — Nazis and zombies — which makes the latter a convenient blanket villain for IDW’s premiere, ten-years-in-the-making event.
So we generally know what to expect from zombies, and we’re tuning in to see the reactions of our friends the Joes, Autobots, Ghostbusters and Enterprise crew. Here’s the catch: Infestation #1 does not contain any of these characters, nor does it mention their names. If you were hoping to get your answer to “Does a Mind Meld work on a zombie?” you won’t find it here.
In a savvy move, IDW decided to employ the other half of its forte, genre horror comics, as the literal gateway into larger story. Many of the 36 jam-packed pages follow the team of CVO: Covert Vampiric Operations as they propel us into the meat of the story. I was completely unfamiliar with CVO, and am apprehensive of bloodsuckers in general (see my Deadpool #30 and Deadpool #31 reviews), but, admittedly, by issue’s end I was not disappointed with the characters. The issue moves quickly, even hastily at times, but Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (DnA) and the editors do an excellent job of keeping it concise and giving the audience traction.
In case you were wondering, these are the zombies of the popular Zombies vs. Robots series. In another smart marketing move, IDW reprinted Zombies vs. Robots #0 and sold it for only a dollar. I tossed it on my pile this week and it was worth all hundred pennies. Good context, and a really fun story, but it’s not completely necessary to the grander scheme or an understanding of the villain’s motives.
David Messina’s pencils are solid, though a little lacking. Some panels are a little disorienting or take a peculiar angle, but I can’t knock his style. It’s fundamentally strong, and the script was probably daunting because I can’t remember the last time I read an issue without a splash page. Nevertheless, I do wonder why Idea + Design Works didn’t get someone more accomplished for such a big deal. It would have been justified to sell out a bit and go with a more recognizable name.
As I write this review, Infestation #1 is already into its second printing and we still have the juicy parts in queue. There are two-page samplings of each of the individual first issues of the represented franchises, and they all were tantalizing in their own regard. The event feels like its really coming together, and so far, is a smashing success (at least according to Diamond).
However, this issue isn’t completely vital in order to pick up the other issues of Infestation. This is merely the tree trunk of the storyline; you could still pick the fruit from the branches, if you’d like. Zombies are zombies, and while this particular group has some peculiarities about them, you don’t need a crapload of context to understand why Ray Stanz is running away from a decaying, savage, human-shaped monster.
Infestation #1 is worth it. It does its job introducing you to this ambitious venture and lays the foundation for what should be an enormously entertaining journey through the IDW multiverse. Even if you haven’t picked it up yet, stick around: the good parts are yet to come.