This is one of those comics you see on the shelf as you walk in and have an instant nerd reaction of, “Is it true?! Is this really an adaptation of A Christmas Carol with zombies?!” At least that’s what I did. I figured I was taking a 50/50 shot at getting a good read, depending upon if it was based on a movie adaptation or the actual book by Charles Dickens. The movies have a tendency to be family-friendly while the book has a more gothic, darker nature. Naturally, if you’re incorporating zombies, you’re going to want the latter. I’m ecstatic to report that it is based off of the book — hooray for a good start!
It resembles Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in that it’s a parody story with added zombies. Quite frankly, I prefer this version to the original book, but that’s just me. The addition of zombies into the story changes it rather drastically, but the main plot points are all the same. You still have Ebenezer Scrooge, who hates everyone, but whose wealth and power is needed to save Christmas… and everyone from being a midnight zombie snack. He’s visited by his business partner, Jacob Marley, and three visions that are supposed to change his mind about being a mean curmudgeon. Granted, we haven’t seen the three visitations yet, but I’m assuming they’ll be zombies as well. Instead of having poor people starving and unable to have a decent Christmas, there are people being ripped apart and eaten in the streets. I must say, though, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a Victorian zombie with a bonnet on or an undead horse with burning red eyes, but I like it.
I was pleased that McCann used the few narration bubbles to set the scene before bringing in the rest of the story. Trying to do all that through dialogue would have been a catastrophe. Also, the way McCann used Victorian style speech gave the whole story a more realistic aspect that was definitely appreciated. Even the lettering was in some form of Old English lettering. There was some masterful work used to incorporate the zombies into the story seamlessly without losing the feel of the original story. It’s that kind of detail that makes Zombies Christmas Carol a step above the rest.
Baldeon’s art isn’t exactly what I expected, but that not a bad thing either. The last few zombie comics I’ve read have a tendency to be more of a scribbled nature that’s detailed in one particular area and fades going outward so that the reader’s drawn to one particular spot. This artwork is more what you’d expect from, well, a Marvel comic. It’s all clear-cut lines and detailed backgrounds with a vibrant use of color. Which, like I said, isn’t bad. In fact, it’s nice to have a zombie comic that’s a little different — it keeps readers hooked because they’re not sure what to expect next. Which is not to say Baldeon lacks gothic style in his art — his stone cold depiction of the long faced Scrooge was absolutely perfect down to the hooked nose and sunken in eyes. Even his hooked eyebrows glared at you off the page. Also, the drawings of the zombies were spot-on, down to the hairstyles. I especially enjoyed how Jacob Marley, even as a zombie, gave off a plaintive aura. I can imagine it’d probably be hard to draw empathy to a character that’s rotting and in chains, but poor Zombie Marley gets my vote.
Overall, I was happy I bought the comic. I’m not a huge Marvel fan, but the combination of the detailed artwork, the dark tone of the story and, well, the zombies made this comic a pleasure to read. It has a lot of potential to be a truly great series, but it’s a little early to tell. From what I’ve seen so far, I’m going to continue reading for sure.