‘Deadworld: Restoration’ is a five issue monthly comic, in the long-running post-apocalyptic zombie series originally created by Stuart Kerr and Vince Locke in 1987. It follows on from 2012’s ‘Deadworld: War Of The Dead’, which was also penned by Reed and Makkonen and. began in December 2013,
Issue one of this new series begins in the immediate aftermath of the war of the dead. The zombies, now commanded by half-zombie Donna, have massacred all the lepers. The surviving humans head for a small city called New Washington, hoping to find shelter there. Donna, though, is still searching for her daughter and New Washington looks like a good place to start. Conflict therefore seems inevitable. Meanwhile, the King, the zombies’ previous leader, may not have been destroyed after all, despite Donna’s best efforts. Nearby, a human hunter called the Dead Killer, having recently caused trouble for both the King and Donna, is now tracking a zombie who skins his victims while they are still alive. Over in the heavily fortified centre of New Washington, those in charge wait for the new arrivals.
Sami Makkonen’s art is gritty and rough-looking. The style certainly suits the nihilistic storyline but it does have its downsides. I found that panels filled with too many characters lacked sufficient detail to tell one from another, which sometimes made it difficult to understand what was going on. Annoyingly, given how wedded I am to paper and ink, I found that the limited colour palette of greys and browns that Makkonen generally uses came across much more clearly in on-line digital previews of the comic than on the hard copy, where subtle gradations of tone and shading tended to be lost.
One of the difficulties of writing an episodic series like ‘Deadworld’ is how you bring new readers up to speed at the start of a new storyline without boring existing fans. As someone who is new to the ‘Deadworld’ universe, I’m not sure Gary Reed got the balance right here. A large number of old characters and new storylines were introduced in this first issue but I didn’t feel that any of them were given enough time to enable me to understand how they fitted into the bigger picture. This left me feeling confused rather than engaged.
The ‘Deadworld’ series has been likened by some readers to Robert Kirkman’s ‘The Walking Dead’. So far, for this new reader, there’s no comparison. ‘The Walking Dead’ introduced you to a group of human survivors and whether you started reading the comic book from the beginning or later on, the battle lines were always clearly drawn, allowing you to empathise with Kirkman’s protagonists as they tried to survive the zombie apocalypse. At the end of issue one of ‘Deadworld: Restoration’, I have hardly any idea who any of the main characters really are and, as yet, I’ve been given very little reason to empathise with any of them. So far, they are little more to me than names on a page. Having said this, I recognise that if I was already familiar with the ‘Deadworld’ universe my reaction might be rather warmer.
Issue one of ‘Deadworld: Restoration’ left me feeling rather flat. I’m hoping that issue two will make me see things differently.
(pub: IDW. 32 page comic. Price: $ 3.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-71564-293-1)