By Danny Djeljosevic and Matthew Fantaci
Matt: I was really intrigued by the announced premise of the series, you know? With all the different zombie books out there it is hard to find a new hook, and placing the story in the 1920s sounded like a great idea. Plus, the cool title also helped sell it to me.
Danny: Brea Grant's involvement was what got my attention. Not because she's the cute speedster from Heroes, either. Her fangirl cred made me think We Will Bury You would be closer to The Umbrella Academy than it would be to Tyrese Gibson's Mayhem! or whatever. Otherwise, I had no idea what it was about.
Agreed on that title, too. We Will Bury You. It's like how people say that early Beatles songs were super-successful because they addressed the audience: She loves you, yeah yeah; I wanna hold your hand; we will bury you. I like a comic book that threatens to kill me.
People might look at We Will Bury You and ask if we really need another zombie comic. I say as long as it's good, it's welcome. Thankfully, the first issue delivers on a level that isn't just RAAAR ZOMBIES -- unlike most zombie books. They key is that the Brea and Zane Austin Grant wrote a first issue where people do things other than wait for zombies to kill them. In fact, I think the non-zombie parts are so strong that the book might not have even needed the zombie hook. Then again, it's possible the book has more in store for us than just the undead.
Also, nobody ever asks that kind of question about superheroes, do they? But I digress.
Matt: Right. I would have to say that the hook of this series is key as well as the execution. If you asked me, I would have said, no, we don't need another zombie series, but that is not what we are getting here. I sense a real desire to do something different in that section of comic stories.
As for the 'celebrity' angle, with Grant being an actress, I touched on that in my What Looks Good column this week. I'm someone who will check out something if I hear there is a celebrity connection to it. With so many books out there and in each month a title needs something to catch readers' attention. And that is something that will catch mine. I'll really check it out online or on the shelf or something. It doesn't make it a guaranteed sell, but I will give it some attention.
Danny: Speaking of execution, how great is Kyle Strahm's art? It's like a hybrid of Richard Corben's renditions and Sam Keith's exaggeratedness, which is perfect for a horror book. Before we ever see a single zombie we see every man in the book looking amazingly grotesque, like they're covered with tumors.
Any of Strahm's panels with the murderer husband are great: the spewing blood, the typewriter to the head. Especially good are the contorted poses he gives to the zombies. It's a refreshing variation, considering zombies are often either limp or stiff.
Matt: Yeah I would say that that is a good art comparison. He has that "scribbly" look combined with a thicker ink line -- very cool on the page. I was really getting into his pages early on. Some of the pages which had more panels -- like 6 or 7 or even more -- were the weaker ones. I think his style needs space and not be cramped by the number of panels to really convey the story and not be distracting. My favorites were the very beginning introducing us to Mirah and some of the ending ones as well.
Danny: Your issue with some of the pages may be related to the script, too. There are a few pages that are so crammed with dialogue that it kind of strangles the art. There's a difficult line to walk in scripting: You don't want your comic too be too decompressed (unless you do), but you don't want it to be a Chris Claremont book where art is just a handy illustration of your wonderful prose.
Strahm's incredibly good at frenzy, too, which is also a must for any decent zombie comic. One of my favorite panels in this issue (besides the typewriter bit) is the bar fight on page 12 (not counting the title page), which carries on well to the zombie party on the following page.
Matt: I didn't think the issue was "too talky" at all. There were a few pages scattered throughout that had a good amount of dialogue on them but to me it was not over the top. I just think that Strahm really needs room to shine and that his pages with less panels are so much better than the pages where he crammed in 8 or more panels. That affects not only the visuals of a story but the storytelling itself.
The script was good and it was focused really well. I also liked that they are not following the formula for zombie books. I love something different. I wish they would have done more to set up the time period of the story. If part of the selling premise on this book is the 1920s time period I think more effort should go into representing that. I mean as it was in this issue there was not a whole lot done to establish that -- other than the character of Mirah in a flapper style outfit.
Danny: I wouldn't call it "talky" as much as I find that some of the pages have too many word balloons on them. For example, the conversation between Henry and Fanya on page 16. I'm glad it lasts only one page, because I'm interested in page economy, but it's got so many word balloons that it looks busy and crowded. It's a fragile balance, these comic book pages.
As for period, I think the page 2 splash succinctly sets the stage for us: period dress, calendar, newspaper depicting a major event, and even a clock to tell us the exact time. I'm glad that the script doesn't try to hammer the idea home that it's the Roaring 20s past that splash and all the period-appropriate clothing and buildings. We understand after the first couple of pages, so there's no need to have people discuss Charles Lindberg. I don't think people in real life talk to give unseen readers cues on what time period we're in.
Where do you see We Will Bury You going with subsequent issues? I'm hoping it continues to be as character-driven as this first issue and doesn't turn into a generic RAAAR ZOMBIES comic. 'Cause it's hard not to make your characters run for the hills when the zombies show up.
Matt: Well, I just used the phrase "too talky" as a shorthand to your complaint of too much dialogue. I don't think there is too much dialogue but maybe not enough space given to the individual scenes. Maybe if that one page scene you like was given more space it would have played out better.
And I'll still disagree in regards to the setting. In my mind just showing a calendar on the wall and a flapper outfit on one of the main characters is just a bare minimum to create setting. It is like the creators said to themselves, "What is the least we can do?" Just having a character wear a cowboy hat does not make it a western.
Hopefully the writers will keep pushing the characterization of the two women. I find Mirah the most compelling so far. This issue was a pretty good setup and shows that the book, as well as the creators, have strong potential on the title.
What did you think of this book?
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