Welcome to the Comic Archive! There have been so many amazing stories, characters, and series produced from comic book publishers for almost 100 years now; this column will serve to celebrate some of the tales you may or may not know about. Each week, we’ll take a story arc or trade paperback/collected story from a non-new comic (three years old or further back), and discuss the details with you.
There are some people out there who just love to buy things in bulk. They believe they are saving money by doing so, and in most cases, they usually are. Many companies, it seems, are happy to oblige these folks. To wit:
- Want groceries and household supplies in bulk? You can get your soda in packs of 24 cans, you can get your eggs in super-sized cartons of 60, and mega-stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and Wal-Mart will sell you 10-packs of anything from deodorant to Hot Pockets (and many things in between).
- Want clothing in bulk? You can buy a pack that has 20 pairs of socks for all your foot-warming needs. Secondhand stores like Goodwill and The Salvation Army even have some locations that have started selling clothing by the pound – that’s right, you pay for the clothes based on how much gross tonnage your buy.
- Heck, you want collectibles and entertainment in bulk? Head over to your local comic book shop or bookstore, and odds are good that they have similarly-themed titles bundled together in sets of 3, 5, 10, or 20 at a discounted rate for your easy shopping convenience. Electronics stores like Best Buy have started selling DVDs and Blu-Rays, either individual discs or sets, that have anywhere from 4 to 50 movies contained within.
The same “bulk” principle applies to “The Mammoth Book of Zombie Comics.” For the practical cover price of $17.95, the buyer can nab themselves a whopping 480 pages of undead-centric comic book goodness. Make no mistake about it, folks: this tome is what scholarly folk might call “a big-ass book.”
However, the important question for the truly discerning comics buyer has to be: is the content inside the book worth it? After all, anyone can take anything that fills almost 500 pages and put it out there for you to buy; in the articulate words of Tommy Callahan (Chris Farley from the movie “Tommy Boy”): “Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it ‘guaranteed,’ I will – I got spare time.” The answer to our question – whether the content of “TMBoZC” is actually worth the money – sadly, is “no.” From the cover to the content, everything about this book just doesn’t quite add up. The cover references that the book includes “30 of the greatest zombie comics ever,” and not only are the stories themselves a far cry from the “greatest ever,” there are only 18 stories contained in the book! Now, I’m no math major, but it seems that something is fundamentally awry here, so the answer of whether the book is worth it remains, in my eyes, a solid “no.”
While there certainly is a lot of zombie action to be had here, most of it is pretty commonplace. Most of the stories aren’t engaging at all, they are just kind of…there. That having been said, there are certainly bright spots in the book. Stories like these are fun to read, to be sure, but the 40-60 pages of quality entertainment just can’t offset the other 400+ pages of mediocrity. Although I can award a few “positive points” for the editor, David Kendall, taking the time to compile these stories into one hefty volume, all of these stories were originally printed in other books, making the originality of this book extremely minimal.
These stories have a wide variety of plotlines, but one common theme seems to permeate them all: the reader can usually find plot holes and inconsistencies in almost every story. It really starts to wear on you after the first hundred pages or so, and it makes for a very poor overall reading experience. As I mentioned, there are 18 different stories in this book, and many of them have some kind of editing problems – some inherent to the story, some that came about specifically from this printing. There is a 60-page comic adaption of the fairly-well-known Robert E. Howard story “Pigeons from Hell,” and it is indeed very good-looking artistically…if only copyright issues hadn’t prevented Kendall from printing ANY of the text in the story! That’s right, it’s a 60-page picture book with absolutely no words to explain what the Hell is happening. Then there is the complete reprinting of a story called “Dead Eyes Open,” which takes up almost a third of the book’s total page count, and is, quite frankly, a boring and often times confusing story. Not nearly as confusing, though, as the zombies-in-space story “Flight from Earth,” which I would not be surprised if it was translated from English to Japanese to French back to English, all done by Russians – a totally incoherent and infuriating story, and it sums up my feelings for the entire book rather nicely. I’m getting angry just thinking about it now.
If you’re the type of reader that doesn’t care what kind of stories you get and just want to read anything and everything zombie, this book may be right up your alley. If you’re the type of reader that actually invests yourself in the story and need a satisfying payoff at the end that makes committing your time and energy to a story worthwhile, I advise you to steer well clear of this book.
Got a comic, character, or story arc that you’d like to see covered by the Comic Archive? Feel free to list it in the Comments below or send your recommendation directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org – see you in the funny papers!