Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Four Color Fiend: Death Valley, a review


Death Valley, Vol. 1 – Story by Andrew Cosby, Written by Johanna Stokes, Art by Rhoald Marcellus; Boom Studios

We just got some new graphic novels and TPBs for our collection at the library and I wanted to do a quick review of some over the next week or so. We’ll start with one that I had not heard of before but the premise got to me.

You can’t go wrong with zombies! Well, maybe if they get too close or they take a bite out of you, but other than that….

Anyway, I’ve been a zombie fan since before it was popular. Heck, even before George Romero made them ‘cool’ you could see them showing up in movies like WHITE ZOMBIE and the like. I think we went through all this before when talking about MARVEL ZOMBIES 2, so let’s get to the review.

DEATH VALLEY (DV, from now on) contains the two issues of that title, plus some short stories. DV is typical of the zombie genre as we usually see it in movies and comics. Teenagers somehow end up the only survivors after some mysterious event causes folks to either turn into zombies, or those who have died return as zombies. Either way you can be sure that there will be pop references, and the teens will represent different types who generally would not be caught dead (pardon the expression) hanging out with each other.

DV actually takes place in that area of California, where a group of teenagers is accidentally caught in the old bomb shelter of their high school. While they are there, some type of solar flare or energy burst occurs transforming all those who have been exposed to transform into flesh eating zombies. Here it even seems to have affected mammals, so we get to see zombie, dogs and bunnies along with the usual former classmates or friends who decide you would be tasty.

The art by Rhoald Marcellus has an American manga style, with a touch of cartoonish, but it offsets the sometimes-brutal story. There is some gore, but not as much as you might expect in this kind of comic. I’m not familiar with Johanna Stokes, but thought she did a nice job capturing the personalities of the different teens. This book will go well in the Young Adult section where it will be shelved.

This volume also contains three short tales written by Stokes, but with art by Keith Giffen, J.K. Woodward and Cynthia Martin. They also contain stories about survivors of the ‘event’ but are very different in tone. Highly recommended!
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