THE OTHER DEAD 1
Writer: Joshua Ortega, Digger Mesch
Artist: Qing Ping Mui
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka: Optimous Docuhe – Ain’t It Cool News)
I’m not tired of zombie books, I’m tired of the same zombie books. This was the mantra for a majority of the geek set about 18 months ago. Hollywood in its imbecilic wisdom decided to correct this malaise by doing everything they could to the shuffling undead from finding cures to even having them fall in love. Blech! What the fat cats missed, was that books like the WALKING DEAD focused on how the undead apocalypse would affect the living of this world that were left to pick up the apocalyptic pieces.
Ortega and crew have taken a similar tenor with the OTHER DEAD, the tale of what happens when our four legged furry friends succumb to reanimation and an insatiable hunger for human flesh. Even though I’m nestled an hour away from Philly and New York, I live in an area rife with nature and God’s creatures great and small. The one comfort I have when I take my dog, Fergus, for a walk through the woods is that any creature, even some of the ones that could really fuck us up, are more afraid of us than we are of them. What would happen if I walked out of my house one day and a 1000 badgers or a pack of bobcats finally realized there was nothing to fear from a city boy and a Golden Retriever? We would be fucked, because the one element that keeps us at the top of the food chain, that small modicum of reasoning that animals have to scurry, is really the only thing keeping us at the top of the food chain. That’s the OTHER DEAD.
As I said though, Ortega and Mesch wisely placed this animal reanimation within the context of the human experience separate from the reanimation. Our tour guide in this world is Tommy, a cherub faced young lad whose parents predict a comeuppance for us as a species. Ortega sets the tone for this book through Tommy’s recollections of his parent’s words about a death in the air of our society. That we are zombies of a like simply waiting for God to hit a reset button and see who is left. Tommy also is a sickly little boy who spends more time regurgitating food than ingesting it.
This apocalypse is predicated by a voodoo ritual. So naturally our setting is the ball sweat capital of the US, where the humidity is higher than the brain cell count, Louisiana (nothing against the fine state – I just spent a booze filled weekend in the French Quarter – MENSA applications were on no one’s mind). Tommy’s older brother is the chief culprit of this duck blood-letting ritual. By the close of the first issue we have no idea why he and his friends destroyed Daffy and his friends, just that it set in motion Noah’s wrath on this Earth. I don’t only use the Noah reference for the animals, on top of this Louisiana is about to get hit by another hurricane (and I don’t mean the kind that comes in a collectible glass from Pat O’ Briens).
A connective tissue that confuses me, are two ladies of the pole who work in one of the many dance delight halls on Bourbon Street. It’s wonderful eye candy and one of them is dating Tommy’s brother. It’s just unclear as to their role in the Dr. Doolittle’s revenge.
Many questions still need to be answered and that’s a good thing after a first issue. Why the voodoo ritual, why is Tommy always sick, why do strippers have to be such gold digging wh….wait…what do the strippers have to do with the story?
Now, if I haven’t entreated you with the story perhaps I can entice you with the art, because it’s absolutely gorgeous. When Tommy was getting sick over breakfast I almost got sick as well from the sharp detail. Also the zombies, both living and undead are gorgeously rendered. And the strippers… WOW! Faces are differentiated and expressions run the full gamut of human emotion in stark detail. My only pull out of the book was when the strippers were leaving the club on Bourbon Street and entering their sugar daddy bought Humvee. I was just on Bourbon this past weekend, the stores are right on top of one another and a Humvee would straddle both sides of the street. Again, something I wouldn’t have noticed had I not just returned so take my one “criticism” THE OTHER DEAD with a large pillar of salt.
Oh, the guys are also running a contest to name their letter’s column. I humbly offer “Squawking Dead.”