Quick Rating: Very Good
The birth of a plague, and the destruction of a world, unfold in the bridge between 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later.
Writer: Steve Niles
Stage 1 Art: Dennis Calero
Stage 2 Art: Diego Olmos & Ken Branch
Stage 3 Art: Nat Jones
Stage 4 Art: Dennis Calero
Colors: Dennis Calero
Letters: Dan Nakrosis
Book Design: Symon Chow
Editors: Jimmy Palmiotti & R. Eric Lieb
Cover Art: Tim Bradstreet
Publisher: Fox Atomic Comics
A few years ago, Trainspotting director Danny Boyle hit the scene with a low-budget, pseudo-zombie flick called 28 Days Later. The surprise hit has turned into a veritable franchise, with the second film 28 Weeks Later set to premiere this summer. Now, the new film studio’s new multimedia arm, Fox Atomic, is launching their comic book line with an original graphic novel bridging the two films.
Steve Niles, who has some experience in the horror genre, has been tapped to set up this story, and he’s done a good job. Niles gives us four separate, but linked stories, beginning with the tale of the scientists who developed the Rage virus in the first place. While there isn’t anything particularly surprising in this story, it’s a really solid set-up and fills in a lot of blanks. Stage 2 takes place during the first days of the outbreak, and is a more personal take on the situation. Here Niles focuses on a single family, one of the first to encounter the Rage virus as it is unleashed, and shows how they deal with the hell that has descended upon them. This is as much a tragedy as it is a horror story, and it works very well.
Stage 3 is the oddest and, perhaps because of that, the best story in the book. Twenty-nine days after the outbreak, a single sharpshooter has decided to make London his own, taking out the infected and fighting a solitary war. When someone else has the same idea, though, he doesn’t take it very well. This is completely unlike most zombie stories you’ve read, a totally different perspective on how a survivor’s mind may become warped.
The last chapter takes place even further out from the outbreak, as characters from previous chapters find themselves in a government quarantine camp – but the question is, why are they there?
Three different art teams handle the four different stages as well. Dennis Callero handles the first and last stages (as well as coloring the entire volume) and has a pretty traditional horror style. Diego Olmos and Ken Branch is more of a standard comic book look, which works for chapter two, and Nat Jones’s scattershot designs in stage three are perfect for that chapter. The book is wrapped in a Tim Bradstreet cover, although this book doesn’t really showcase his talents. Really, all that was required of him was a skyline, over which was superimposed the movie logo. It’s a good cover, but Bradstreet is so good with characters it almost seems a waste.
In addition to telling some intriguing stories (which this book does), the volume is also intended to act as a segue into 28 Weeks Later. There are clearly elements in the book that could easily be picked up on in the next film, but which ones and how well they are used can’t really be told until the movie is released. Taken on its own, the book is a very entertaining horror story, a good expansion of the world introduced in the first movie, and a nice launch property for Fox Atomic Comics.