Zombie Highway: Back in Blue #1 (Digital Webbing)
By Jason Pell, Roberto Viacava, T.J. Kirsch
This pit stop in Digitial Webbing‘s Zombie Highway series is kind of a mixed bag. Although the series is beign released through mini-series and one-shots, writer Jason Pell is clearly treating the stories as if it were an ongoing series, as evidenced by this issue. As a standalone issue of an ongoing series, this would be great — the four guys responsible for unleashing the zombie plague on Earth stop at a rest stop to get their bearings. That’s pretty much it. And when it’s well-written (as this is), it’s the kind of thing that can make for a necessary breather in an ongoing comic. As a one-shot, though, it lacks something of a punch. That #1 on the cover may make this book more enticing to prospective new readers, but the story is something that will leave them cold if they don’t have the foundation built already by having read the previous two miniseries. (The one-shot Directionless special isn’t really required reading here.) This is a good issue, but a heck of a lot better if you’ve read the earlier ones.
Quick Rating: Good
Can you survive a plague of zombies?
Writer: Jason Pell
Art: Juan Romera & Dan Lauer
Letters: Jason Arthur & Trebor
Editor: Jeremy Wilson
Cover Art: Juan Romera, Robt. Snyder & Ed Dukeshire
Publisher: Digital Webbing
Digital Webbing’s Zombie Highway is by no means the only zombie comic book fighting for your dollar these days. The Walking Dead is huge, Marvel Zombies is a juggernaut, and it seems like a dozen more tomes of the undead are solicited every month. Even comics like Welcome to Tranquility and Shadowpact are doing zombie stories these days. What makes Zombie Highway unique, I think, is its cast – we’re following the guys who caused the outbreak.
But for the Directionless one-shot, that doesn’t really matter all that much. The main cast is really only incidental to the story. Instead, we follow a new character that encounters the boys and has to try to survive with them in a zombie world. What makes this book unusual is the format – this comic is done in the style of the old Choose Your Own Adventure books, where every few pages you – as the character – are presented with a choice. If you make Choice A, go to page 12. Choice B, go to page 20. The story continues.
As a Choose Your Own Adventure, this book doesn’t quite hold up. What made those books work was the wild way the story would weave in and out of itself, how every choice brought you to another myriad of possibilities. This book doesn’t really give you that – you’re presented with a choice four times, and each time making the wrong choice leads you promptly to the character’s death. This isn’t really a fault of the creators, but of the format. To do a proper Choose Your Own Adventure, you need a lot more than just 33 pages of story. A Choose Your Own Adventure comic doesn’t really work – to do it up right, you’d need a full-blown graphic novel of at least 100 pages, preferably more.
Still, it’s a noble effort on the part of the creators. There isn’t nearly enough experimentation in comic books these days. The medium is capable of so much more than it does, and this is a fine attempt to reach out and accomplish new things. A for inspiration, B for execution.