Zomnibus, a collection of three graphic novels by Shane McCarthy, El Torres, and Chris Ryall (2009)
First off, cool title, huh?
If there's one thing we all know about any zombie apocalypse it's that mankind is going to come out on the short end. It's a basic rule that no one knows where a zombis apocalypse came from, or why it originated. That gives the zombies the advantage of surprise. By the time humanity realizes what's going on, a goodly part of the population has already become ors d'oevres for the flesh-eating monsters. In addition, we as a people, live in an overly-technological age. We're too specialized; there's not that many people who know exactly how a power grid works and we usually fall back to a pre-technological world -- that's another basic rule. Add to that, there's just not enough guns and bullets in existance to take on billions of the undead. So, yeah, things look bleak for mankind.
And bleak is the theme of all three of these graphic novels. "Bleak" includes the fall of societal norms and the rise of vigilantism, murder, rape, and gang violence. There's some pretty graphic stuff in all three of these stories, so I doubt anybody would give give themE PG-13 rating.
First off, there's Zombies!: Feast by Sahne McCarthy, with art by Chris Bolton and Enrique Lopez Lorenzana. It's a stormy night and a bus is transporting eight of the country's worst criminals from one prison to another. Through the blinding rain and far from anywhere, the driver swerves to avoid a man who just appeared out of nowhere. (Yep, the man is a zobie, but no one knows that yet.) The bus crashes and, although there are no significant injuries (well, the driver's dead, but that's not significant, is it?), the bus cannot be driven. The prison guards start walking with their eight shackled and chained together prisoners start walking. They come to what appears to be an abandoned house. One guard remains to watch over the prisoners while nother guard and the US Marshal in charge of the transfer check out the house. They find a blood-splattered bed; then a really disgusting zombie attacks them and take a bite out of the marshal. A bullet through the head stops the zombie. Meanwhile a cute little girl zombie approaches the prisoners and attacks them. One of prisoners grabs a metal pipe and smashes the little zombie's head. Blood and body parts go flying and a lkittle bit of blood and possibly a piece of zombie flesh land in the mouth of another prisoner, so we know he's soon a goner. Then the marshal turns and one of the guards has to kill him.
The survivors head off to find help in the nearest town, the prisoners still shackled together. Surprise, surprise! the town is full of zombies. The gang fight their way to a hardware store, killing a man keeping watch outside the store, thinking he is a zombie. He's not. There are a few other survivors hiding out in the store, including a couple of women. Boys will be boys and one prisoner, Braxton, is the nastiest boy of all. He throws one of the prisoners out a window for the zombies, and kills another to assert his power. Then one of guards hits it off with one of the women and they go off to do more than simple canoodling, unaware that a zombie has crawled into the building though a hole in the wall. The zombie takes a hunk out of the guard's leg. His blonde bed partner screams. (I.m not sure what happens to her, but we never see her again.) More zombies. More fights. More bites. More blood, More gore. Three people make it out of the hardware store -- one guard. one woman, and a prisoner seeking redemption. No quesses on how the prisoner seeks redemption. And then there are two with the zombies closing in...As I said, this is a bleak story and there is nothing bleaker than the story's final ironic panel.
The artwork is dark and claustrophobic, suiting the mood of the story. At times, the colors are too dark, making it hard to distinguish the characters. There is also very little characterization; the character's are either good, bad, or undead -- any further distinctions are unnecessary.
Then we come to the second book: Zombies!: Eclipse of the Undead, written by El Torres, with art by Yair Herrera. We're in Los Angeles now and the zombies have taken over the city. There is a qroup of survivors encamped on the roof of the Los Angeles Memoril Auditorium. A number of survivors, including most of the children, have already been evacuated by the army; the rest are awaiting the return of helicopters to take them to safety. They are going to have to wait a very long time. Communication from all over the country is out. The few army officers left cannot reach the preisdent, the Pentagon, Norad, or the high command, so, as in the earlier story, the survivors are out of luck. More so, because there is a street gang trying to take over the rooftop. The gang is ruled by Lonzo and, somehow, he has managed to get his car on the roof. Not sure how he gets gas for it, though.
The story is told through the eyes of Brad Brazza, a med student who is now responsible for the health care of many of the survivors. Helping Brad is Suzy Novorka, a mother whose two children had already been airlifted off the roof. The other characters we meet are Paquita, who was once Lonzo's woman, Ishigami Shiguro, and elderly sensei who is deadly with a katana, Bernardo, Lonzo's second in command, and Chola, a prisoner who has been abandoned by the cop who was guarding him. Somehow a few zombies manage to get up on the roof so there's biting and bloodshed and Shiguro's katana working overtime. Order on the roof is falling apart -- mayhem, death and rape abounds. The army is now able to evacuate their soldiers and some of the survivors; about half the population of the rooftop is left to their own devices. On another rooftop in Los Angeles there is an End of the World Party/Orgy. Almost everyone in L.A. has given up.
Brad, Suzy, Paquita, Lonzo, Chola, and Shiguro try to escape. There is rumor that some survivors are hiding out in the mountains. Lonzo tries to rape Suzy and she kills him. Shiguro sacrifices himself in a swishing katana bloodbath so the others can escape. We then flash forward to twenty years hence. Brad and Paquita now have two children. Susy went off to try to dind her children and ws never heard from. Chola is now the leader of the mountain community. And the zombies? We assume they are still around, but these zombies follow some biological rules. They can get rigor mortis and be unable to move -- making them easier to kill. And their bodies putrify and sooner of later they just rot away. there may be light at the end of the zombie apocalypse tunnel, after all.
The final story in the book is Complete Zombies vs. Robots by Chris Ryall, with surreal artwork by Ashley Wood. Three scientists have perfected (?) a time machine that can travel to the future. Two of them want to be the first to test the device. The third thinks that it is too dangerous and that a robot should be sent instead. One scientist enters the machine and comes back a mangled mess of blood, meat, and bones. The second scientist enters the machine and...doesn't come back. The third scientist activates a robot for the next trip. Unfortunately, he ignores Asimov's Laws of Robotics and the robot decides that robots are better than humans and kills the scientist before entering the machine.
Now we are in the future and mankind has been eliminated by zombies. Robots have exxpanded and began to specialize, including the introduction of a merciless war robot. But, wait! Somehow there is one human left -- a baby girl who is cared for by the robots. The war robot kills the baby and then triggers the annihilation of zombies and robots worldwide. That should be the end. But wait, somewhere in the future there is a tribe of Amazons living (and, as with all Amazons in a non-patriarchal society, they run around naked). Somehow, there are more zombies around, including what appearss to be a Minataur zombie, and a killer robot. So the Amazons get wiped out, except for three 17-year-olds and a ten-year-old. They manage to kill the zombies but at the cost of their own lives. Warbot is the only one left. He sails off in a freighter, which gets pulled down into the ocean depths by a kraken. Then, surprise! Mermen!
A totally chaotic story that moves all over the place. Yet this is the best story in the book. It's told with wry, dark humor and drawn in a surrealistic style that fits the tale well. If you are looking for a zombie/robot/Amazon apocalypse story, this is the one for you. A masterpiece of imagination and surrealism.
This was the first Zomnibus issued by IDW. A second volume was issued in 2011. I'll be on the lookout for that one.