Zombee graphic novel review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Image Comics - 1-58240-662-6
  • Release date: 2006
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9781582406626
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Horror, Period drama

We’re in feudal Japan. Fumenaga is sent by the local Lord to fetch a toymaker to repair his daughter’s favourite doll. Along the way he encounters a swordsman pushing a baby carriage, a little nod to Lone Wolf and Cub, but if that’s our favourite pair, somewhere along the way they’ve fallen foul of zombies. They’re not the only ones. Fumenaga falls in with Ishida, a ninja bandit with claws like Wolverine strapped to his hand and a talent for telepathy, but is there any safety for this odd couple.

Samurai vs zombies? Has it been done before? If not, credit Miles Gunter and Victor Santos for a novel idea. There’s no pretending it’s high art, though, and to avoid repetition the zombies have been given an upgrade from the mindless shamblers seen in film and on TV. Some of these guys are almost bursting with fortitude, cheery types keen for a sit down and a drink. For all that, they still need their daily dose of living flesh.

Santos wears his influences on his sleeve. Michael Avon Oeming and Frank Miller are primary, but then Miller took influences from samurai comics, and Santos manages a good action fusion of their styles. He has to, as he carries a lot of Zombee. It’s an extremely quick read, the extended fight sequences imaginative in places, but in others it cries out for someone to whip out a pistol, Indiana Jones style. Right in the final stretch Gunter pulls out a big surprise, and his method of dealing with it is also imaginative. It’s taken from a well known Marvel character, but astounds here in context, and no-one can look back and say Gunter hasn’t played fair by avoiding clues.

Zombee is fun, but something you’ll read once and trade away.