Zombies Hi #1-7 (Uproar Comics)
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Like it or not, zombies are here to stay. After all, they’re undead and nothing short of blunt head trauma will stop them from continuing to shamble towards you, hoping to make a meal of your vitals. There has been no shortage of works using zombies as a primary enemy, with the juggernaut that is The Walking Dead acting as the standard-bearer for zombie survival tales. There’s another comic possibly looking to be the next incarnation of Robert Kirkman’s runaway hit in Zombies Hi from Uproar Comics. The core series is written by Danny McLaughlin, penciled by Ruari Coleman and Kevin Logue and colored by Roo Thompson and Dannii Coyle.
Here’s the deal. The people of Derry are locked in the city’s walls, reluctant to go outside and contend with the zombie apocalypse that’s raging outside the city. The citizens are forced to contend with everything that makes humanity great, including racism, stereotypes and terrorism, the last of which has served as an overarching storyline. Someone set off a bomb in the town and it’s up to Walker, Paddy, Doc and Priest.
That’s the core story. Each issue also has a series of other short stories that all tie in to the main story. These tales boasts an array of talent and while all of them may not seem to be strictly main storyline, they all act as supporting narratives. The variety and sheer number of stories really help flesh out the universe, ensuring that there’s a lot of meat to it.
While the story sounds interesting, the presentation and delivery suffers slightly. The work shows many hallmarks of a wide range of talent. There’s a lot of possibility in the story and as the series progresses the central creative team begin to settle into a grove and start getting more focused. Still though, the issue does boast some rather glaring problems.
First, there is a ton of dialogue. In fact, a good chunk of the issues are plastered with speech bubbles, causing the story to get lost in a sea of exposition. Not only that, but all the dialogue bubbles cover a lot of the art, so what you’re essentially looking at are pages of words with pictures in the background. It’s a really dense amount of character exchanges, making it slightly difficult to discern what exactly you should pay attention to.
Secondly, the story is sort of generic. That’s not to say it’s played out, but a zombie apocalypse is a subject that’s been played out overall. The creative team does manage to infuse Zombies Hi with their own twist and the first seven issues feature enough characterization that you start to get invested in the key players. The story is sort of schizophrenic at times, not in the core storyline necessarily, but in all the other short stories.
The art also shows a wide range talent. It starts off black and white, but the sixth and seventh issues are in color, which add more depth to the series. The panel layouts are fairly standard, as the artistic team doesn’t really do much experimenting in the earlier issues. As the series progresses though, the art–like the writing–seems to settle into a groove and gains some consistency.
There are still some issues with the art. Many of the character poses are recycled and certain facial details are lacking. The action is handled well enough though and the series isn’t saturated in blood like you would expect a zombie book to be. There’s room for improvement on the artistic front, but it gets progressively better as the series numbers higher.
Zombies Hi will–fairly or unfairly–get compared to The Walking Dead. Both books even have a secluded town where survivors are fighting to make a go of it amidst the apocalypse. The former is a lot less polished than the latter, but it does show that the tools are there for burgeoning creators to make a book. Hopefully, the creators continue to improve, as the storyline in Zombies Hi could really touch on some unique facets of human survival.
Its strongest selling point is that it has a lot of heart, as the creative team clearly loves what they do and look like they’re working to make the series tighter and stronger with each successive issue. The digital landscape has leveled the playing field when it comes to creating works like Zombies Hi and these guys are showing what you can do with the internet, some creativity and some perseverance. The series is interesting and looks to be getting better, both from a story standpoint, as well as a quality standpoint.