Comic Book Review: Z Nation #1
If you know me then you know I’m one of the biggest fans of Syfy’s Z Nation. Not a week that I missed and episode or didn’t review one too. It is a treat that after everything we have been through in this hit zombie series, we now have the opportunity to follow a story that is a prequel set before the events of the show. Characters like Charles Garnett were gone too soon, so the chance to get another story out of him? A great disservice you would be doing yourself as a fan to overlook.
When they say prequel, this still does leave you with questions as to how far we are into the zombie apocalypse. A year is a good start to know as a point in time, but that is still uncharted territory when we jump into this Zpocalypse at a fairly random point. From the flip of the first page I appreciate that the first thing they do is dive into what the world is dealing with as a whole. Details matter when dealing with a zombie story. The first thing is to always address the hierarchy of the people, as well their state of mind during this early stage of the Zpocalypse. Second is understanding the threat of the zombies as these literally aren’t your average zombies in the genre. Though above all at a time like this it is vital to know where we are at in terms of survivability which they clear up quickly through an explanation of what more makes up this Black Summer.
Where we find Garnett makes sense of the kind of guy we ran into during the premiere of Z Nation and beyond. One would have simply seen him as just another soldier, though where he is now you can grasp how he was more accustomed to leading Operation Bite Mark down the road.
This team of soldiers sent on this mission to retrieve a possibly untouched cache of the food substitute Soylent Z from Galveston, Texas I’m glad they aren’t wasting time in us getting to know. If there’s one thing you enjoy about Z Nation, it is that no matter who you run into new they find a way for us to connect with them on some level in spite of all the craziness going on. Israel Johnson is the leader here and he has this air of mystery to him that draws you in because you can’t really put your finger on who he really is aside from being the strong and silent type. The best you can ask for from any of these soldiers is what you get in the moment. That element of unpredictability adds intensity to this story and worked when crap hit the fan as you would expect. Their interactions with the world around them felt familiar to Operation Bite Mark. Sure you knew exactly what this team was running into, but they didn’t and they learned the hard way what can be dangerous from both human and zombie alike.
For the zombies, I think most fans would love the way this first issue gets into all those little things that make this world unique compared to other zombie stories. The way they name special zombies, and how they approach them is not something they lay off of which is engaging.
I was very impressed by the artwork for Z Nation #1. Dynamite has really been stepping up in how serious they are about bringing franchises such as Z Nation to book form. As I will normally point out, when taking a chance on books like this you want not only a good story, but appealing artwork to match. We get exactly that from the art team of Edu Menna and Sal Aiala. A prequel like this was the smart move because no one is really looking for the accuracy of characters to their tv counterparts. I mean they did nail the likeness of Charles Garnett, but he is the only familiar face while the rest of this cast is new. Something which allows them more freedom to journey into uncharted territory. Now there are times I will say when the facial expressions came off flat which hopefully improves over time. Aside from this there was an appreciation for everything else which stood out between the weapons, the special kind of zombies, and the world around them that is ravaged yet still showing signs of the earlier times of the Zpocalypse. It is definitely the colors that bring it all together. Natural colors throughout which ground this story. I particularly like the colors that Aiala use for skin tones and textures. Beyond this I would say the effects used to spotlight moments of action as the use of blurs and so forth add to the intensity of those action scenes.
Z Nation #1 was a strong start to this new six-issue miniseries. It captured everything you love about Z Nation through these new and familiar faces. Expect the unexpected and cling to no one as this world knows how to chew you up and spit you back out. And this is only one year in, so if there was any way to generate hype for what the next five issues have to offer they nailed it.